iOS 10.3 Pop-up Suggests the End of 32-Bit App Support, Pre-iPhone 5s Devices Could Soon Become Obsolete

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An upcoming version of iOS will nix support for 32-bit applications, according to a pop-up message discovered in an iOS 10.3 beta. News of Apple dropping 32-bit support first came from Vienna, Austria-based developer Peter Steinberger, who tweeted the pop-up message on Tuesday that he discovered in the first iOS 10.3 beta.

“This app will not work with future versions of iOS. The developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility,” the message reads.

In iOS 9 and iOS 10, opening 32-bit applications triggers a message that the app in question will “slow down [an] iPhone” — so 32-bit compatibility issues aren’t anything new. But the subtle change in wording in the iOS 10.3 developer beta seems to suggest that legacy support for 32-bit apps will be dropped entirely in a future version of iOS — which will likely be iOS 11, judging by Apple’s track record of releasing compatibility-breaking updates.

The iPhone 5s — with its A7 processor — marked the iPhone’s shift to 64-bit architecture — and in the wake of the switch, Cupertino has been putting pressure on developers to update their apps. In October 2014, Apple posted a notice to their developer’s web page that all new apps from February 1 forward would be required to offer 64-bit support. Similarly, in June 2015, they required all app updates to do the same.

In the future, this shift to 64-bit software would effectively end the 32-bit era — and cause 32-bit devices like the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and fourth-gen iPad to be left behind as far as iOS and app updates. Eventually, these devices will become obsolete.

iOS 10.3, which was seeded to developers last Tuesday, is the latest update to Apple’s iOS 10 operating system, and it adds several features such as a new Find My AirPods app, as well as general bug fixes and performance improvements. As far as iOS 11, Apple is largely expected to unveil its newest major iOS update at its Worldwide Developers Conference later this year.

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