Earlier this month, there were reports that the Google Pixel 7 series can only run 64-bit applications. This means that those 32-bit applications that have not been updated will not work. An error message appears when trying to install a 32-bit-only Android app on the Pixel 7. Now, Google has officially confirmed the report. The company recently revealed some information about the Pixel 7 series in a blog post. According to Google, the Pixel 7 series is the first ever pure 64-bit Android phone.
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Positives of a pure 64-bit Android phone
Google said that in order to achieve this “feat,” various changes were required. These changes were on all levels. It includes “to the entire platform, tools, Google Play, and of course, the app”. So how does this benefit users? Google notes that 64-bit applications run faster than 32-bit applications. This is because they can use extra registers and instructions that 32-bit applications cannot. Additionally, newer CPUs offer up to 25% performance gains when running 64-bit code. In fact, some processors even drop support for 32-bit code entirely.
Also, it can help improve security. The larger address space makes defences like ASLR more effective. The spare bits can also be used to protect the integrity of the control flow. These countermeasures reduce the chances of an intruder taking control of the device.
Google also says that removing support for 32-bit code can save up to 150MB of RAM, which the operating system uses even when not running 32-bit applications. These memory savings mean fewer instances of insufficient memory, which means fewer instances of killing the background. For developers, they can use better tools, such as HWASan, for detecting memory errors and improving the quality of the application. For vendors, pure 64-bit devices cut CTS testing time in half, allowing vendors to update devices faster and easier. Google also said that pure 32-bit devices are still important for Android Go, Android TV and Android Wear. Google Play will continue to provide 32-bit applications for pure 32-bit devices.