GOOGLE HAS outlined its timetable for pushing Android towards a 64-bit future.
After first telling us back in 2017 that it would really rather like it if devs made their apps 64-bit ready, Mountain View is now ready to tell us that its patience is over and it's going Red Ross on 32-bit stragglers.
When Android launched it was a strictly 32-bit affair, but as flagships have moved more and more towards the higher-performing 64-bit architecture, so too has Android's policy. 64-bit first being supported way back in Android 5.0 Lollipop which was released in 2014.
So, from 1st August 2019, all new submissions and updates, including native code. will be expected to provide 32 and 64-bit versions. The exception is for apps that use the Unity engine, specifically version 5.6 or earlier. They have a stay until August 2021.
Also excluded will be Wear OS (Android Wear) and Android TV apps - at present those two sub-platforms are only capable of running in 32-bit.
Speaking of August 2021, that is also the point where the Google Play Store will be set to ignore apps that have no 64-bit version, if the device is capable of running it. This also won't apply to devices that aren't running Android 9.0 Pie - another quiet example of Google's determination to end fragmentation on the platform.
Google makes it clear that 32-bit apps aren't going anywhere (it would be a disaster for the Android Go end of the market if they did), but it does suggest that flagships will see a sudden drop in the number of abandoned apps that don't render properly. If you've ever bought games from Google Play and gone back to them years later, you'll know what we're on about.
So, if you want to play them, you'd be best served by keeping an old device for your shonky old apps.
Meanwhile, developers will be expected to provide both a 32-bit and 64-bit build for the foreseeable future, which will at least mean that Google isn't dictating too hard about the end-of-life of devices with the move. μ
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