Android to end support of 32-bit apps – all you need to know

Android 32 bit apps

Following our article about Apple ending supporting 32-bit apps it is now the turn to Android!

Android apps will need to support 64-bit starting August 1, 2019. This will provide faster and richer experiences to users.

32-bit apps – what are they?

In computing 32-bit and 64-bit refer to the type of central processing unit, operating system, driver, software program, etc. that uses that particular architecture {Lifewire}.  64-bit phones comes with a better processor making the processing data faster.

Since the launch of Android 5.0 Lollipop in November 2014 every app that was created had the option to run in 64-bit mode but the 34-bit mode was still compatible. In 2017, Google announced that Android apps using native code must provide a 64-bit compliant version in addition to the 32-bit version, to prepare the expiration of 32-bit mode.

How to find which apps will no longer work?

If your app uses only code written in the Java or Kotlin languages, including any libraries or SDKs, your app is already compliant with 64-bit devices. If your app uses any other native code, or if you are not sure of the code used, you will need to assess your app and take action.

You need to check first if your app uses any native code, which is the case when:

  • Your app embeds any C/C++ (native) code
  • Or you app links with any third party native libraries
  • Or your app is built by a third-party app builder that uses native libraries

Based on the Android compliancy requirements, apps developers have to review their current apps in order to avoid losing them. There are a few simple steps to follow in order to check the apps.

What are the next steps?

Starting August 1, 2019:

  • All new apps and app updates that include native code are required to provide 64-bit versions in addition to 32-bit versions when publishing to Google Play Store.
  • Exception: Google Play will continue to accept 32-bit only updates to existing games that use Unity 5.6.x or older until August 2021.

Starting August 1, 2021:

  • Google Play will stop serving apps without 64-bit versions on 64-bit capable devices, meaning that 32-bit only apps will no longer be available on the Google Play Store for those 64-bit devices.
  • This will include games built with Unity 5.6.x or older, no exception granted.

These requirements do not apply to:

  • APKs or app bundles explicitly targeting Wear OS or Android TV devices, which do not currently support 64-bit code.
  • APKs or app bundles that are not distributed to devices running versions of Android below Android 9 Pie.

Handy tips for app managers and creators

What are the steps coders and managers can take to handle this transition?

  • Inspect your APK or app bundle for native code. You can check for .so files using APK Analyzer. Identify whether they are built from your own code or brought by an SDK or library that you are using. If you do not have any .so files in your APK, you are already 64-bit compliant.
  • Enable 64-bit architectures and rebuild the native code (.so files) imported in your code. See the documentation for more details.
  • Upgrade any SDK and library to a 64-bit compliant version, when needed. Reach out to the SDK or library owner if one is not available. Rakuten Aquafadas is already working with our top library owners on their own 64-bit compatibility.
  • Test your new app locally once you’ve rebuilt it.
  • Rollout to your testers using testing tracks for thorough testing.

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