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25 Sep 2017 1:17
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  •   Home > News > International

    Apple is about to kill 32-bit apps. Here's why it's happening and how to find out if you're affected

    When iOS 11 releases, Apple could kill up to 200,000 apps. Here's how to find out if any of the apps on your phone face the chopping block.

    Everybody has an app graveyard.

    These are the apps you downloaded on a whim, thought, "I'll come back to that one day" and never did. Well, their days are numbered.

    Apple is about to pull the wraps off its latest iPhone, and with it, the latest version of its operating system — iOS 11 (that's if you haven't already seen a leaked version).

    The new iOS is ending support for 32-bit apps. That means some apps that used to work just fine, won't work once you've updated.

    How many apps and phones will be affected?

    A report from Sensor Tower found in March nearly 200,000 apps on the App Store were not compatible with iOS 11.

    That's about 8 per cent of apps available worldwide.

    Alvin Lee, senior mobility analyst at Telsyte, estimated about 1.2 million iPhone users still had models that cannot upgrade to the 64-bit operating system.

    It's been a long time coming

    Apple released its first 64-bit iPhone way back in 2013 with the iPhone 5S. From early 2015, all apps submitted to the store were required to support 64-bit.

    Director of the UWA Centre for Software Practice Dr David Glance said in the tech world, being given two years to update a service was an "extraordinary" amount of time.

    "There's an awful lot of apps, [and] because it's relatively easy to create an app, you get people in their bedrooms essentially producing an app," he said.

    "This is a good opportunity for Apple but also developers to actually get their house in order and clean the app store and get rid of [old] apps.

    "Even if 20 per cent of them disappear, there's still a phenomenally large number of apps so most people won't notice the difference."

    So why switch now? In theory, it's all about faster performance.

    "It refers to the amount of data a processor can handle. A 64-bit processor can process more data at a time than a 32-bit processor," Mr Lee said.

    A bigger brain in your phone means developers can make apps that allow it to complete more complex tasks.

    What kinds of apps are likely to be affected?

    There's not likely to be an issue with your most used apps. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and the like will be fine.

    But one of the most popular apps that looks likely to get the chop is 2013 smash-hit Flappy Bird.

    You can't download it anymore, but if it's still on your phone you won't be able to launch it if you upgrade to iOS 11.

    Also at risk will be some of those aps you downloaded on a whim and only opened once or twice.

    A developer may have pulled it from the app store (like Flappy Bird) or just moved on to other things and given up updating it.

    For example, after upgrading to a beta version of iOS 11, Mr Glance noticed an app he used to pay for items at a vending machine stopped working.

    According to the Sensor Tower analysis, the categories with the most 32-bit apps are games and educational apps.

    If you've updated to iOS 10, you might have seen this warning after opening an app:

    That's a sign an app is 32-bit, and might not work once Apple releases iOS 11.

    How can I find out if my apps are affected?

    Thankfully it's pretty easy.

    • Open your iPhone head to the General menu in Settings
    • Then tap on About
    • Then look for Applications

    If you can tap on it, you'll be taken to a list of apps that won't work once iOS 11 is live unless they're updated.

    If you can't tap on Applications, all your apps are sweet.

    What about Android users?

    Because of the sheer variety of Android phones on the market, there's no rush to phase out 32-bit apps on the platform.

    "Android is in a bit of a different situation in that it can't make these unilateral moves," Dr Glance said.

    So if you use an Android phone and have 32-bit apps installed, they're not in danger of breaking any time soon.

    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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