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With iOS 10.3, a 32-Bit Deadline Looms

Posted Feb 7, 2017

Developers who installed the most recent iOS 10.3 beta were greeted with a warning when launching some older apps. The latest version of Apple’s operating system pops up a message when 32-bit apps are launched saying, “This app will not work with future versions of iOS.”

The message continues; “The developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility.” This warning implies that from iOS 10.4 onwards, 32-bit apps simply won’t work. It’s 64-bit only from here on out.

In late 2013, Apple allowed for developers to begin submitting 64-bit apps for the iPhone 5s, the first iPhone with a 64-bit processor. In February 2015, Apple made 64-bit support mandatory for new app submissions, and in June 2015, Apple mandated that all app updates submitted had to include 64-bit support.

The warning and looming cut off won’t impact all publishers, but anyone with an older, legacy app should be prepared for contacts from fans and users. It’s unlikely any app impacted by this change will be top-of-mind for publishers, but it serves as a reminder that there’s a not insignificant segment of mobile users who found an app they love and won’t move on.

Publishers would do well to perform a survey of their current apps and note which ones may fall under the 32-bit axe. By knowing which apps might be worth updating (including setting up ATS compliance) and which ones might not, publishers will be able to direct impacted users towards other apps they may enjoy.

Publishers should be on the lookout for questions about 32-bit apps on social media and support channels, especially Facebook pages for specific apps, which Facebook can generate automatically based on interest if there’s no official page.

Being proactive with cross-promotion may also be an option for some apps. Showing users of a 32-bit app that’s not getting any work done under the hood an ad for a similar app from the same publisher may convert some users to a new favorite game.

It’s also worth noting that using push notifications to advertise another app is a violation of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines.

However publishers approach the deadline of 64-bit compliance and the looming spectre of the App Store purge, they should be prepared to take advantage of this slightly less-crowded space, whether that’s reinvigorating old apps for new users, or ramping up their user acquisition for new titles.

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