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Have you updated your iOS apps to 64 bits?

With Apple’s early June Worldwide Developers Conference a little more than two months away, it’s time to get moving, if you haven’t already, on one of the big changes almost certainly coming to iOS 11 — the dropping of support for apps that are not written for 64-bit processors.

According to a report from metrics provider SensorTower, the number of ripe-for-banishment 32-bit apps in the Apple app store hovered around 170,000 as of mid-March 2017. A big number, indeed, but it represents only about 8% of the approximately 2.4 million apps currently available in the app store. The good news is that the other 92% of listed apps are already 64-bit compatible.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the category with the most non-conforming apps is games at nearly 39,000. That’s about 20.6% of all the problem apps and nearly double the number of apps in the next offending category, education, just shy of 20,000.  Other categories with a significant number of non-64-bit apps include entertainment, lifestyle, business, books, utilities, travel, and music. Only two categories have fewer than 1,000 offending apps, weather and shopping.

The high number of problem game apps is, of course, a reflection of the number of gaming apps in the app store in the first place. Gaming apps, many of them positively awful and almost always free, are often the domain of teenagers learning how to write code and do design. It makes sense then that these apps are the ones most likely to be abandoned as their creators mature, their coding skills evolve, and they move on to weightier projects. No doubt some of those apps were likely written to run on the now-defunct Parse platform — a popular choice for game development — but which were never migrated to another hosting environment and left to wither on the vine.

While this purge is all about 64-bitness, it’s not the first time Apple has made an attempt to clean house. In the first nine months of 2016, Apple deleted roughly 14,000 apps per month, according to SensorTower. That changed drastically in September 2016 when Apple started to notify developers that it would remove apps it considered outdated or which did not adhere to current various guidelines. You got 30 days to fix your app or it would be removed. The company wasn’t kidding — In October 2016, the number of apps purged soared to more than 47,000

The message is clear: If your app hasn’t been updated in eons, doesn’t comply with current standards, or is still mired in the 32-bit world, it’s headed for oblivion. Need some help to convert your app to a 64-bit binary? Fear not, Apple has an online guide that includes sample code. Better get busy.

Are your iOS apps up to date as 64-bit binaries? What difficulties to you encounter and how did you solve them? Do you have apps in the Apple app store that you simply choose to abandon? What tools do you use to build apps for iOS? Share your thoughts with us; we’d like to hear from you.

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