Google sets out roadmap for 64-bit requirement for Android apps

Developers have been told all apps and updates must have 64-bit CPU support by 2021

Android figurine

Google has told developers that all Android apps will need to be released with 64-bit versions from August and beyond, or they will eventually be removed from the Play Store.

Although support for mobile devices with 32-bit CPUs will continue, app developers have been given advanced warning that by August 2021, the Play Store will stop hosting apps without 64-bit versions on 64-bit devices.

"64-bit CPUs deliver faster, richer experiences for your users," said Play and Android's product managers Vlad Radu and Diana Wong in a blog. "Adding a 64-bit version of your app provides performance improvements, makes way for future innovation, and sets you up for devices with 64-bit only hardware."

Google's roadmap for phasing in apps with 64-bit support by default starts from 1 August 2019, when all new apps and updates that include native code will have to provide 64-bit versions as well as 32-bit versions.

Games that use version 5.6 or older of the Unity engine, however, are the only exception to this new policy, and the Google Play Store will continue to accept 32-bit only updates to existing games until 2021.

The second milestone, on 1 August 2021, will see the Play Store hiding apps without 64-bit versions from 64-bit devices, although the 32-bit versions will still appear on 32-bit compatible devices.

This timeline for transition won't apply to apps that are released for Android Pie, or software designed for Wear OS and Android TV as neither of these systems yet support 64-bit apps.

"We want to help you get ready and know you need time to plan," they continued. "We've supported 64-bit CPUs since Android 5.0 Lollipop and in 2017 we first announced that apps using native code must provide a 64-bit version (in addition to the 32-bit version).

"Today we're providing more detailed information and timelines to make it as easy as possible to transition in 2019."

The Android blog also published a number of steps developers can take to become 64-bit compliant, alongside in-depth documentation for a more detailed outline of the process.

The firm suggesting that for most developers the migration should be relatively straightforward, with many apps written in entirely non-native programming languages, such as Java or Kotlin, and do not need code changes.

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