A year ago, Google gave Android app developers a heads-up about a new 64-bit requirement coming to the Google Play store in August 2019, and now it has outlined more details about its 64-bit transition.
As per the original announcement in December 2017, Google Play will continue to support 32-bit apps for now, but as of August 1, 2019 all 32-bit apps must have a 64-bit version too. Google is requiring 64-bit apps to prepare for Android devices that only support 64-bit code.
From August 1 this year, all new apps and app updates that include native code must have 64-bit versions as well as 32-bit versions when publishing to Google Play.
This ruling applies to apps written in C or C++ code or apps with links to third-party native libraries, for example. It does not apply to the many apps written in Java or Kotlin.
"If your app uses only code written in the Java programming language or Kotlin, including any libraries or SDKs, your app is already ready for 64-bit devices. If your app uses any native code, or you are unsure if it does, you will need to assess your app and take action," Google notes in its 64-bit guide for Android developers.
Developers will able to submit a 32-bit only update to existing games until August 2021 if it uses Unity 5.6 or older.
Starting August 1, 2021, Google Play won't serve apps without 64-bit versions on 64-bit capable devices. Users with 64-bit devices simply won't see 32-bit only apps in Google Play, including games built with Unity 5.6 or older.
"We are not making changes to our policy on 32-bit support. Play will continue to deliver apps to 32-bit devices. This requirement means that apps with 32-bit native code will need to have an additional 64-bit version as well," Google Play and Android product managers note in a blog.
The extra leeway for games developers who use Unity is because Unity only enabled 64-bit support last year.
The new rules don't apply to apps for Wear OS or Android TV, since devices running these don't support 64-bit code. It also doesn't apply to apps that are not distributed to devices running Android 9 Pie or later.