Get ready for the coming iOS 11 'appocalypse'

The end is nigh for all 32-bit iOS apps, so if you're still relying on older apps, it's time to find alternatives.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Imagine unlocking your iPhone and scrolling to your favorite app only to find that when you tap on it, it doesn't work any more. Well, if you're still relying on an old app that hasn't been updated recently, iOS 11 will be the end of the line.

Read also: iPhone 8: What we think we know

The end is nigh for all 32-bit iOS apps

As the WWDC 2017 keynote opener, Apple kicked off with a video titled "Appocalypse," which took a light-hearted look at the turmoil that would result if people's favorite apps suddenly stopped working. It's a bit of fun from Apple to highlight the importance of apps -- and their developers -- not only to Apple but to society as a whole.

But what Apple didn't say was that there is an 'appocalypse' coming, and that the end is indeed nigh for a whole class of iOS apps.

Apps that you might be relying on.

For some time now, Apple has been warning iPhone and iPad users that legacy 32-bit apps may slow down their devices, but with the recent release of iOS 10.3, Apple has escalated things by making it clear that the end is nigh.

If you've seen the warning (shown below) in relation to an app you use, then that app is a 32-bit app and Apple is getting ready to withdraw support as soon as iOS 11 is released, which is likely to be in September.

Warning in iOS 10.3 than a 32-bit app will soon stop working.

One study suggests the number could be around 187,000 apps, or some 8 percent of the 2.4 million apps in Apple's App Store, with apps in the games, education, and entertainment categories being the hardest hit.

So, what do you need to do to get ready for the coming 'appocalypse?'

The first thing you need to do is check for app compatibility using the built-in checker tool (you need to be running iOS 10.3 or later for this to work). Go to Settings > General > About > Applications:

Listing of 32-bit apps in iOS 10.3

From there, you'll get a list of all the 32-bit apps on your iPhone or iPad that won't run on iOS 11. If you're lucky, you won't have any apps listed, or the apps that are listed will be old stuff that you forgot you had installed and no longer use.

However, if an app that you are relying on is listed, then you need to get ready for its demise.

The first thing to do is check to see if there's an updated app, because sometimes developers release a new app rather than update the old app. If getting a replacement is that simple, then you're in luck.

But if there isn't an update, then you need to start preparing now for the app to stop working as soon as you update to iOS 11. You might be able to put off upgrading for a while, but the idea of holding back on an upgrade that will contain security updates for any length of time in untenable.

If the app is a game or something you use for entertainment, then its loss won't be all that critical, but if it's something that you rely on for work, then its demise has the potential to be a significant productivity speed bump.

So here's what you'll need to do:

  • If the app holds any of you data, you need to look at how to get your data out of the app. This may be easy, or it may be horribly difficult. Hopefully, it's not impossible. If the app stores its data in the cloud using a provider such as Dropbox, then this might make getting your hands on it easier.
  • You need to find a replacement app. This means firing up the App Store app and spending time doing research.
  • You may need to get your existing data into the new app. Again, this may be easy, or it may be horribly difficult.
  • You will need to test to see whether the replacement app.

Good luck! You might need it.

Best iPhone or iPad apps (March 2017)

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