Google announced on Thursday that the company intends to get rid of all apps that aren’t built with a 64-bit framework in the future. App developers for Google Play will need to adhere to a few changes which include compulsory 64-bit versions by 2019. This is being done in order to enhance security. Developers are also required to add security metadata to each application (APK) file. The time frame set by the Google for doing so is the August of 2019. After that, though, 32-bit apps will cease to operate. The move aims to prepare for a future version of Android that will only support 64-bit apps, and Google is billing it as an improvement for the platform’s security performance as a whole. Google announced the changes on the Android Developers Blog. The condition for 64-bit support for apps was introduced in Android 5.0 but from August 2019, it will become mandatory.
Currently, over 40 percent devices coming online have 64-bit support, along with maintaining 32-bit compatibility, according to Google. “For apps that use native libraries, 64-bit code typically offers significantly better performance, with additional registers and new instructions,” the announcement post says. Under the new rules, developers will have to start specifically designing for Android Oreo’s interface beginning in August of 2018, even if the app doesn’t actually require Oreo. Each time a new version of Android comes out, Google will update this requirement for the next year with a new version to target.
In addition, Google announced that it’s introducing security metadata that can prove if a particular app was authentically downloaded through the Google Play store, which should help reduce malware downloads. Apple too laid down similar mandate on iOS 11 by ending support for 32-bit libraries in June this year.
Notably, in August, the company removed over 300 applications from the Google Play Store for security loopholes involving distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks.