Google documents the wonders of 64-bit only Android, starting with the Pixel 7

News Summary:

  • By dropping support for 32-bit code and Android applications built this way, Google highlights several tentacles, starting with how 64-bit apps “run faster because they have access to extra registers and instructions that 32 -Bit apps don’t have. “Newer CPUs perform 25% better “when running 64-bit code, or even not supporting 32-bit code at all.”

  • Google today officially confirmed that “Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro will be the first Android phones to support only 64-bit apps” and detailed the benefits.

By removing 32-bit code, Android saves up to 150MB of RAM that was “used by the operating system even when no 32-bit apps were running.” This would result in fewer app kills in the background and “less whine.”

Google is promoting access to better tools like HWAAn to detect memory errors by focusing only on 64-bit. The company has been working on it since 2014, when 64-bit support was first introduced with Google Play, and apps are required to support it in 2019. The company advises developers to “take extra care on Play to test their apps and updates for 64-bit devices” and offers a prelaunch report for this scenario.

Address space layout randomization (ASLR) becomes more effective on the security front because the countermeasure has more room to work to prevent memory corruption vulnerabilities.

Finally, “64-bit device configurations halve CTS testing time” for faster OEM updates. Google expects more Android devices to follow this path but offers only an “overtime” timeline.

So far, some Pixel 7 users have encountered the new limitation when installing older, non-updated apps. For example, there is the Play Console app, although Google wants Android developers to use only the website.

However, Google says it will continue 32-bit support for Android Go, Android TV, and Wear OS: “Please continue to support 32-bit ABIs; Google Play will continue to provide 32-bit apps for pure 32-bit devices.” These form factors often use older chips to meet more affordable price points.