Google recently announced that its new smartphone, the Pixel 7, supports only 64-bit Android apps, meaning user libraries of 32-bit apps are no longer compatible. Needless to say, this news caused a lot of consternation among both Android users and developers building apps for Android. Ultimately, a significant portion of the Android app library became obsolete for this latest model of Google’s Pixel series of smartphones.
Of course, Apple made a similar switch to a 64-bit app requirement a few years ago, again making a large portion of the iOS app library obsolete unless the developer recompiles the app to support 64-bit. As far as Android, what about the smartphone lines from Samsung, Motorola, and others? Mobile developers targeting Google’s operating system need to stay keenly aware of these changes.
So let’s take a closer look at this critical issue facing developers who want their Android apps to function on the widest array of mobile devices. We dive into Google’s reasonings beyond this new requirement, its benefits, and whether or not Samsung and others will follow suit. Finally, we provide advice to developers looking to update their Android apps to support 64-bit mobile processors.
Simply stated, Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro smartphones ushered in a new era for the Android platform. These phones actually block 32-bit apps from installing on the smartphone, effectively making 64-bit support a hard requirement. In short, developers need to make a few code changes and recompile their Android apps to support a 64-bit kernel. Even if all Android smartphone lines don’t have a similar requirement currently, expect them to follow Google’s lead sooner rather than later.
Actually, this new 64-bit requirement comes as no surprise to tech industry pundits following mobile app development trends and Google’s maneuvers over the last few years. Apple themselves instituted a similar 64-bit stipulation for its iOS platform in June of 2018. In a competitive mobile tech industry, Google simply needs to take a similar approach, lest users consider Android to be an obsolete platform compared to iOS. Notably, both mobile operating systems introduced 64-support years ago, Google in 2011 and Apple in 2013.
The benefits of 64-bit for Android apps remain numerous. 64-bit mobile processors boast the ability to access significantly more memory addresses. Additionally, expect performance improvements and an increase in security when an Android app supports 64-bit. For example, devices with more than 4GB of RAM enjoy a 5 to 10 percent boost in performance.
Again, new Pixel smartphones simply prevent Android apps from being installed unless they support 64-bit. So if you want to reach the widest possible audience for your company’s apps for Android, 64-bit is a must. Don’t let this issue prevent your Android app from making an impact!
With the Pixel Tablet soon to be released, it warrants notice as another 64-bit only Android device. Additionally, Android 14 also appears to directly influence Google’s move towards a 64-bit app requirement. Slated to be released sometime in 2023, the new mobile OS version is rumored to also require 64-bit Android apps. However, this requirement only affects smartphones and tablets using the ARMv9 processor.
Needless to say, expect many of the top smartphone makers – Samsung, Motorola, etc. –to leverage the added power of the ARMv9. The added performance plays a critical role in the top smartphones on the market differentiating themselves from the rest of the pack. This means Android app developers need to consider adapting all their current apps to 64-bit. Additionally, any current Android app development projects need strongly consider only supporting 64-bit versions before launch. There’s no denying the Android platform is quickly pivoting to be a 64-bit only mobile platform.
As noted earlier, if you want your company’s Android app to reach the widest possible audience, make sure to include 64-bit support in your Android app product launch checklist. Sure, expect your 32-bit apps to still work on older devices, but that side of the Android platform is rapidly becoming obsolete. For the time-being, you need to provide both 32-bit and 64-bit versions on Google Play.
To start, ensure your app’s source code (including all libraries and SDKs) is written in either Java or Kotlin. If so, the app is 64-bit compatible. If not, review the app on the Play Console. It displays a warning message if any portion of the app includes 32-bit native code. Determine which pieces need updated. These usually relate to code written in C or C++ as well as libraries written by third-party providers. Fix these issues to make your app ready for this emerging 64-bit mobile world
If you need help with mobile app development services, contact the team at NineTwoThree. We boast extensive experience building software for the Android and iOS platforms. Connect with us to explore the significant benefits of a partnership!