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Google tells Android app developers to get ready with 64-bit

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Jan 16, 2019, 9:56 am IST
Updated Jan 16, 2019, 9:56 am IST
Google wants to help developers get ready and knows that they need time to plan.
Google is providing more detailed information and timelines to make it as easy as possible to transition in 2019.
 Google is providing more detailed information and timelines to make it as easy as possible to transition in 2019.

64-bit CPUs deliver faster, richer experiences for your users. 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 wants to help developers get ready and knows that they need time to plan. They have supported 64-bit CPUs since Android 5.0 Lollipop and in 2017 Google first announced that apps using native code must provide a 64-bit version (in addition to the 32-bit version). Now, Google is providing more detailed information and timelines to make it as easy as possible to transition in 2019.

 

The 64-bit requirement: what it means for developers

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.

Extension: Google Play will continue to accept 32-bit only updates to existing games that use Unity 5.6 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 they will no longer be available in the Play Store on those devices.

This will include games built with Unity 5.6 or older.

The requirement does not apply to:

APKs or app bundles explicitly targeting Wear OS or Android TV, which are form factors that do not currently support 64-bit code.

APKs or app bundles that are not distributed to devices running Android 9 Pie or later.

Google is not making changes to our policy on 32-bit support. Play will continue to deliver apps to 32-bit devices. This requirement means that apps with 32-bit native code will need to have an additional 64-bit version as well.

Preparing for the 64-bit requirement

Google anticipates that for most developers, the move to 64-bit should be straightforward. Many apps are written entirely in non-native code (e.g. the Java programming language or Kotlin) and do not need code changes.

All developers: Here is an overview of the steps you will need to take in order to become 64-bit compliant. For a more detailed outline of this process refer to Google’s in-depth documentation.

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 are imported 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 native code (.so files) imported by your own code.

Upgrade any SDKs and libraries to 64-bit compliant versions, if needed. Reach out to the SDK or library owner if one is not available. Google is working with top library owners on their 64-bit compatibility.

Test for issues locally once you’ve rebuilt your app.

Rollout to your testers using testing tracks for thorough testing.

Game developers: The three most used engines all currently support 64-bit (Unreal & Cocos2d since 2015, Unity since 2018). Google understands that migrating a 3rd party game engine is an intensive process with long lead times.

Since Unity only recently began providing 64-bit support in versions 2017.4 and 2018.2, Google is granting an automatic extension to existing games using versions 5.6 or older until August 2021. Unity provides guides that can help you through the process of upgrading to a 64-bit compliant version.

SDK and library owners: Update for 64-bit compliance as soon as possible to give app developers time to adapt, and let your developers know. Sign up and register your SDK to receive updates about the latest tools and information that can help you serve your customers.

Going forward

For those that already support 64-bit – Google is happy. If you haven’t yet, Google will encourage you to begin any work for the 64-bit requirement as soon as possible. As Google moves closer to the deadline, they will be updating their developer documentation with more information on how to check if your app is compliant.

Google is excited about the future that 64-bit CPUs bring in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and immersive mobile. Supporting 64-bit prepares the ecosystem for the innovation enabled by the advanced compute capabilities of 64-bit devices, and for future Android devices that only support 64-bit code.

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