Apple has released a new tool to help highlight apps that will be rendered obsolete by the next major update to its iOS operating system. The tool shipped to iPhone and iPad users with the latest update, to iOS 10.3.
Any app that hasn’t been updated since 2015 is likely to be rendered obsolete when iOS 11 ships in about six months’ time, a consequence of a decision by Apple to remove support for apps which don’t run natively in 64-bit mode.
The first 64-bit iPhone, the 5S, shipped in September 2013, and every app that was created since then has had the option to run in 64-bit mode. Since 2015, apps and updates have had to run in 64-bit mode to secure approval from Apple.
The latest version of iOS, version 10.3, includes a menu item (in Settings > General > About > Applications) which will show a list of all the installed apps that don’t run in 64-bit mode. “The apps may slow down your iPhone and will not work with future version of iOS if they are not updated,” Apple now warns users. “If no update is available, contact the app developer for more information.”
For the majority of iPhone users, the items in the list, if any, are likely to be older games, particularly those without a free-to-play business model. Developers of those apps have little financial incentive to continue to work on them after their initial burst of sales, even if they may have a steady trickle of downloads in the long term.
Users who have been clinging on to older versions of apps thanks to disliked updates will also find themselves forced to run software updates or be locked out of the older versions.
App research company Sensor Tower identified 187,000 apps that will definitely be rendered obsolete, since they were submitted prior to September 2013. Additionally, a significant number of apps created after September 2013 will have not been shipped with 64-bit mode, which only became mandatory in June 2015.
Apple has not yet confirmed that iOS 11 will be the death knell for 32-bit apps, but the update, expected to be shipped in September, would be the logical time to pull the trigger. The company is likely to show off the first beta of the new operating system at this year’s World-Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), the biggest event in Apple’s annual calendar.
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