Android 64-Bit update and how it affects Apps using 3rd party libraries or component

Google announced in Jan 2019 that they are going to stop allowing apps developed for 32-bit CPUs to be published on their Play store starting Aug 1, 2019. The apps built for 32-bit CPUs existing in the store will continue to exist for anyone with 32-bit or 64-bit CPU on their phones until Aug 1, 2021. After Aug 1, 2021 apps built for 32-bit will only be available to users who have 32-bit CPU on their phone. Most phone makers for Android OS have already started using 64-bit CPUs on their devices.

What does this all mean?

As an app maker you have to make sure you update your app to be compatible with 64-bit CPU before you publish it after Aug 1, 2019. Technically, your dev team will need to rebuild your app for the 64-bit version.

Sounds rather straightforward doesn’t it?

Not quite… For many app developers this will be sufficient. However, if you use third party libraries or components built by other software developers or if you use any open source libraries you have to ensure that they are also 64-bit compliant.

In many cases your 3rd party library maker should have already upgraded to 64-bit in anticipation of this update from Google. If they have not, then you have to scramble to find another library maker who will have the same functionality and integrate their library into your app to have it continue function. Worse case you may have to strip out the function until you can find a replacement.

As for open source libraries, you are at the mercy of the author/company/community to upgrade to 64-bit. Again in many cases they would have done this in anticipation of this update from Google. If they have not, then it’s time for your developers to roll up their sleeves and upgrade the library themselves.

From a product management standpoint updates such as this can wreak havoc on your normal development cycle. Project managers will have to allocate time and budget for this upgrade to take place. The upgrade should include a detailed analysis of the affected areas and risks involved in the update. Custom built components, 3rd party components (Open Source/Free/Premium) and testing plans should be clearly laid out before you update the app.
Once you update the app then test, test, test to ensure all the functionality work like they did before the update.

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