Your favourite iOS apps and games are about to disappear. Here’s why – and how to save them

32-bit apps and games will soon stop working on iOS, but you can keep the classics indefinitely

Time was, you could trust in the permanence of your tech. Vinyl wasn't going anywhere. Tapes felt pretty solid.

Not any more: apps and games vanish from app stores on a daily basis - and we’ll soon see a far more radical upheaval, with iOS blocking access to thousands of titles.

Warning signs first appeared in iOS 10 betas. When some older apps were launched, a dialogue noted they weren’t optimised for iOS 10, stating this “may affect overall system performance”.

By 10.2, the wording shifted to note such an app may slow down your device, and the language in iOS 10.3 is starker still. The latest dialogue says a guilty app “will not work with future versions of iOS”. It ends: “The developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility”.

It could be Appageddon

The inference is that Apple will at some point flick a switch and remove support for 32-bit apps from 64-bit devices. There’s no way of knowing when this will happen, just that it will. We suspect the most likely moment will be the release of iOS 11 later this year.

In iOS 10.3, you can at least list affected apps, by opening Settings and navigating to General > About > Applications. Those listed under ‘no updates available’ won’t work unless updated before iOS 11 arrives.

For its part, Apple at least provided notice. Back in December 2014, developers were told iOS apps had to include 64-bit support. The cut-off date regarding new App Store submissions was February 1, 2015, and for updates June 1. 

This means any app released during the past two years or updated after June 2015 should be safe – bar other incompatibility issues. For anything else, developers must issue updates.

But things aren’t quite that simple. Artist and games creator Zach Gage recently revamped his hit word game SpellTower, but tells Stuff many of his other games will “just disappear”. This is because “many no longer compile and would take loads of work to get running”, which cannot be justified, given how little they earn.