Warning to startups: 200,000 iPhone apps could disappear from the App Store this year

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Approximately 200,000 iOS apps could be destined for the scrapheap when Apple ushers in the new version of its operating system, iOS 11, around September this year.

Businesses not ensuring their apps have been recently updated or overhauled are taking a serious risk.

Apple smartphone devices account for around 17.9% of the market globally, according to Gartner’s most recent quarterly sales report. This puts them in the number one spot despite offering a smaller range of phones than their nearest competitors.

The fact Apple bills itself as a premium player makes it even more impressive. Their phones aren’t cheap. They are fully featured with consumers expecting that they have the latest and greatest, and that their apps will provide as seamless an experience as the hardware.

To keep up with the pace of the competition and to continue its push to be the dominant premium smartphone manufacturer, Apple is ushering in changes that will ensure its OS is at the forefront of technology. This includes a probable switch to supporting only apps made for iPhone 64-bit processors, therefore delivering a faster, smoother, more premium experience.

What does this mean? Since the iPhone 5, Apple consciously decided to use 64-bit processors rather than its less advanced but cheaper 32-bit counterpart. Apps built for 32-bit systems could run on a 64-bit system thanks to backward compatibility but would often suffer from sluggishness. But that could become no more as Apple looks to streamline its codebase and kill off support for apps built for 32-bit systems—in other words, it wants to make life easier for itself and push for use of newer technology.

Appscore’s Alex Louey. (Source: supplied)

If your app is built in June 2015 or after, breathe. You’re not affected. Anything built prior to that, particularly apps that have not seen an update before June 2015 or at all, could be on the chopping block.

How to check if an app might get wiped out

To check when an app was published or last updated, Apple includes a tool in iOS 10.3. Go to Settings, General, About, Applications. A list titled “These apps may slow down your iPhone and will not work with future versions of iOS if they are not updated” will show you the apps that are not currently 64-bit.

The solution is update, rebuild or be scrapped. In some cases, the app may be so out-of-date that it is more economical to start from scratch than to update the original. It’s case-by-case.

Best practice is updating each of your apps at least once a year, ideally towards the end of the year or start of the next year, to coincide with the release of a new iOS version in September. That ensure any bugs in the new system have been eradicated before you update your app.

If this is followed, you should not experience any problems, and your business will continue along happily with an app that can be used by the vast majority of Apple iPhone users.

Alex Louey is the co-founder and managing director of Appscore.

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