Google today posted a message on the Android Developers Blog explaining that the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are the first Android handsets to support only 64-bit apps. With these phones, the operating system no longer supports 32-bit apps. 64-bit apps run faster because they can access instructions that 32-bit apps cannot. And Google also points out that when working with 64-bit apps, newer CPUs can provide up to 25% better performance.
Google tells us that removing support for 32-bit apps also saves memory because it saves as much as 150MB of RAM the operating system uses even when not running 32-bit apps. Google says, “These memory savings result in fewer out-of-memory conditions, which means less whine and fewer background app kills.” Yes, we could all use less whining on our phones. No one wants their chains to crash.
Google told app developers, “Thanks to the efforts and collaboration of the entire Android community, our ecosystem is ready. The transition of Android devices to 64-bit-only required many changes in the platform, tooling, Play, and, of course, your apps. We started by introducing 64-bit support in 2014, announcing policy changes in 2017, and mandating support for Google Play apps starting in 2019.”
Using only 64-bit apps also improves how secure your phone is. That’s because of the larger address space that allows the use of address space layout randomization (ASLR), which prevents attackers from abusing memory corruption through bugs. Creating 64-bit apps also gives developers better tools for finding memory bugs and improving the quality of an app. Moving to 64-bit apps may also cause phone manufacturers to distribute updates more quickly and easily.
The company also tells app developers, “Although 64-bit-only devices will grow in popularity with phones joining Android Auto in this group, 32-bit-only devices will remain important for Android Go, Android TV, and Android Wear.”
Google has a message for developers, “As 64-bit devices reach users, we encourage developers to start paying extra attention to testing their apps and updates for 64-bit devices. To support this, Google Play now offers pre-launch reports run on 64-bit-only devices to detect and report compatibility issues.”
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