Last year at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference, commonly known as the WWDC, Apple announced that it would be dropping support for 32-bit applications in the not so distant future. And now, Apple is continuing this path and beginning to prepare users for the upcoming change to macOS.
At the WWDC, Apple said that macOS High Sierra “will be the last macOS release to support 32-bit apps without compromise.” Now, with the release of macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, which is in beta, Apple has also begun notifying users of the upcoming change.
In the beta release notes, Apple highlights the change. “To prepare for a future release of macOS in which 32-bit software will no longer run without compromise, starting in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, a user is notified on the launch of an app that depends on 32-bit software. The alert appears only once per app.”
So what does this really mean for users? If you launch an app that is 32-bit after you have updated to the latest release of macOS High Sierra, then you will receive a message stating that the app is only 32-bit and won’t be supported in future releases. This notice will only happen once so you better hope you notice it, but at least the system won’t nag you like Windows tends to do. Remember their update nags when Windows 10 was released?
This change won’t just impact apps distributed on the Mac App Store. This change will impact all apps created for macOS. Apple said, “If you distribute your apps outside the Mac App Store, we highly recommend distributing 64-bit binaries to make sure your users can continue to run your apps on future versions of macOS.”
The good news is Apple has begun this process early enough that developers and consumers shouldn’t have to scramble to get things updated properly. Apple has even released a few tools to help developers update their apps.
In the new Xcode 9.3 beta, there are new diagnostic tools available to help developers test 64-bit compatibility and Apple has even created a new terminal command that will force an app to run in 64-bit mode, making it easier for developers to test their apps to see how well they will run on an operating system that only supports 64-bit.
In the Xcode tools notes Apple noted, “The last macOS release to support 32-bit apps without compromise is macOS High Sierra. Make sure future releases of your app are 64-bit compatible by using new diagnostic tools in Xcode 9.3 beta and testing on macOS 10.13.4 beta. This version of Xcode also builds 64-bit apps by default.”
Still, no matter what Apple does, there will still be people scrambling with compatibility issues with this change finally does take place. While the change is coming, remember the beta for High Sierra hasn’t even been released yet, so there are still several months to prepare for the change.
Do you still run 32-bit apps on your MacBook? If so, will you be able to update them or will you have to find something different to use? Or would you even consider moving to a Windows alternative if you can’t get the 32-bit apps you need? Let me know in the comments below.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.