Android could go 64-bit only in 2023, starting with the Pixel tablet


enlarge / An official photo of the Pixel tablet, which will be released early next year.


Android 13 recently reached AOSP and included in the code source dump is an interesting commit noted by Esper’s Mishal Rahman. It sounds like Google is planning to – or at least experimenting with it – port its upcoming Pixel tablet to a 64-bit version of Android. The commit doesn’t beat around the bush and says, “Move tangor to 64-bit only.” “Tangor” is the code name for the already announced Pixel tablet.

iOS, with its single hardware manufacturer, has only been 64-bit since 2017. Android has a million moving parts across a number of different companies, so getting only 64-bit will go a long way. However, it is worth getting there, with the promise of increased performance and additional security features.

The Google Play app ecosystem is probably the furthest in 64-bit support. All apps written entirely in Java or Kotlin already get automatic 64-bit compatibility from the system. In 2019, Google required that Google Play apps that use native code (usually games) must deliver 64-bit versions. There were exceptions for a few popular SDKs like Adobe Air and Unity, but these exceptions ended in August 2021, when all apps were required to have 64-bit versions.

As for hardware, every SoC should now support 64-bit, and some flagship Android SoCs are even reducing their ability to run 32-bit code. Each flagship chip that follows the recommended ARM design only supports 32-bit processing on three of the eight cores – the other five are only 64-bit. ARM wants to completely drop 32-bit support from its 2023 flagship SoC design, but there are already rumors that Qualcomm won’t follow that recommended design. The most likely reason is because of China.

Google’s 64-bit app requirements only apply to apps in Google Play, which do not exist in China. China has a large collection of competing app stores with more lax policies, so 32-bit apps haven’t been phased out as aggressively. However, China is working on this issue, with the top five Chinese app stores — from Alibaba, Baidu, OPPO, Tencent and Xiaomi — agreeing to ban 32-bit apps by the end of this month. There’s also the issue of 64-bit compatibility between packaged apps from OEM skins, which the app store’s rules don’t apply to.

Rahman found another commit that suggests that only 64-bit support can be a regular part of Android 14 by 2023, so the Pixel tablet, already officially confirmed for early next year, looks like a test run to see how things go.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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