Apple just released the latest developer-only preview of iOS 10.3, which contains a very important tidbit: the warning that older apps will stop working in future versions of iOS.
In the latest iOS betas, certain apps which have not been updated in a while display a curious new prompt when loaded up: “This app will not work with future version of iOS. The developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility.” Sounds like a warning to us, to prepare users for the potential loss of favorite apps in the future. But why would Apple kill off apps that people might still be using?
The technical details aren’t important for the average user, but it all hinges on the fact that Apple switched from making 32-bit to 64-bit devices several years ago, to improve performance. Everything from the iPhone 5s and newer runs on a 64-bit framework, but lots of older apps were built around a 32-bit framework – meaning they don’t run very efficiently on 64-bit devices. Apple has had enough of offering legacy support, and it looks as though 32-bit apps will be killed off entirely when iOS 11 releases later this year. Good news for performance, bad news for fans of old apps.
The latest betas include a new section in Settings, listing all the 32-bit apps on a user’s device. Though this isn’t available to the public yet, we took a look at the feature and noticed around 5% of the apps we had installed were mentioned. The list comprised mostly games, including classics like Puzzlejuice and Thomas Was Alone, also comprising a few old utilities and music creation apps – but remember, the list is personal to this one device and how much you’re affected by these changes will vary from user to user.
The App Compatibility setting will be open to the public with the official release of iOS 10.3, and we’ll be sure to let you know when that becomes available. Of course, developers still have the chance to update to work with 64-bit devices, and drawing attention to old apps in this way could help to kick lazy or forgetful devs into action. Let’s hope we see a flurry of updates in the next six months!