Apple is getting ready to roll out a new iPhone and its next OS, but in the process it could kill 187,000 apps.
Analytics firm Sensor Tower anticipates that thousands of 32-bit apps will become obsolete once Apple releases iOS 11, which is expected to only support apps that run on a 64-bit processor.
A quick refresher: After years of encouraging developers to update older apps to make them compatible with the 64-bit processors that debuted with the iPhone 5S, it seems that Apple will begin to force developers’ hands with iOS 11. Warnings that “this app will not work with future versions of iOS” began appearing in beta versions of iOS earlier this year, feeding speculation that Apple will finally end support for these outdated apps once and for all.
While we knew that “app rot” as it’s known in developer circles is a real problem, it was hard to quantify just how many apps could be impacted by such a change. We now have a much clearer idea thanks to new data from Sensor Tower.
As it stands now, at least 8 percent of all apps in the App Store could be rendered obsolete overnight if Apple chooses to end support for 32-bit apps. That adds up to about 187,000 apps, according to the firm.
This, by the way, is somewhat of a conservative estimate. Sensor Tower came up with the number by looking for apps that were submitted prior to the launch of the iPhone 5S in 2013 (when Apple first started supporting 64-bit) that haven’t been updated since.
Though the company introduced 64-but chipsets in September 2013, Apple didn’t start requiring developers to support 64-bit architecture until nearly two years later in June of 2015, so it’s likely there are far more incompatible apps than the number reflected in Sensor Tower’s report.
And while the vast majority of these apps won’t be missed, there are quite a few classics — some of which still enjoy devoted followings — from the early days of the App Store that could be at risk should Apple force them to update or die.
Of course, we won’t know the fate of these apps for awhile longer. Apple has yet to comment on iOS 11, and probably won’t ahead of its formal unveiling at WWDC later this year. And while beta software is a good indication of changes to come, nothing is certain until the updates become official.
Still, there are other signs Apple is ready to start ditching old outdated apps. The company removed more than 47,000 apps last fall, according to Sensor Tower, so further clamping down on languishing apps wouldn’t be surprising at all.