June 15: Niantic has delayed this decision to a date TBA according to this following tweet.
In a PokémonGOLive blog post dated June 9, 2020 & titled "Pokémon GO to discontinue support on 32-bit Android devices", Niantic announces the ending support for 32-bit Operating Systems for Android. Here, they lay out the case to focus more extensively on streamlined production and support for newer devices. Support for these Android phones will end in the "Beginning of August, 2020", but this is not the first time Niantic has ended support for older or under used devices for different products and updates.
In November of 2018 support ended for iOS 9. This situation should sound extremely similar as iOS 9 was the final 32-bit operating system that Apple produced. The operating system was released in 2015 and supported the following devices:
iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6S Plus
iPhone SE (1st generation)
Comparing data from Statista, a site & app usage analysis firm, Pokémon GO saw an increase of Active Users in every location demographic worldwide by at least 7 Million players from 2018 to 2019, even after ending the support for iOS 9. What does this tell us? The game will continue to grow and thrive and these changes in supported software are needed to allow development of a more stable game.
An interesting thing to note here, this isn't solely a Niantic decision... It's enabled in part by Google forcing an August 1st deadline (editted to clarify: this deadline was extended for 2 years and is half expired now) for all apps to natively support 64-bit. What does that have to do with anything? Google is requiring every app to have a 64-bit version now as well as the base 32. This seems to be a future proofing measure to slowly eliminate 32-bit OS from the Android ecosystem by Google and Niantic has likely decided to deal with those changes now rather than later.
The timing is likely the worst possible timing to announce ending support for these lower end & older devices when a month ago the US unemployment rate was 13.3% amid a global pandemic, trainers may not be in a position to upgrade in order to keep playing, and we aren't talking about an insignificant share of the market. Unlike two years ago when iOS 9 was already an obsolete system, 32-Bit Android makes up to almost 10% of all Android owners. With that amount of the market, how do you find out if you are affected and will need to upgrade eventually to return to the game?
Thanks to u/ManiacDC on Reddit, there is a list of (at least) 56 Android phone models capable of running Pokémon GO that will not be supported in under two months.
If your device isn't on the list and you want to be sure, check your device settings. Go to 'Settings' > 'System' and check 'Kernel version'. If the code inside contains 'x64′ string, your device has a 64-bit OS; if you cannot find this string, then it's 32-bit.
Some phones may not provide this information up front or may be a hybrid of 64-bit hardware with 32-bit software (such as Motorola and Samsung phones) you can triple check by using a benchmark app.
What's next? Toward the beginning of August, possibly August 1st, up to 10% of Android users will either need to buy a new phone or device to play the game or they will be forced away. Are we at Stadium happy about this decision? Absolutely not, we feel that every Pokémon Fan's journey and fandom has only been made that much better through Pokémon GO, and as we strive to constantly find the best battlers around the world through our tournaments and formats we know that undoubtedly, at least a few of the top players of today or tomorrow will be unable to battle.
In closing, we all realize that these are likely necessary changes for the future of the game, and while it may directly affect us or a fellow trainer, it's hopefully for the betterment of the game in the future. Is there ever a good time to announce you'll no longer support 10% of an Operating System? No. Was there a better time to do so? Probably.
Article was written by & all opinions expressed were those of RamblingRabbit.
Data Collected from PokémonGOLive, Niantic Help Shift, Statista, Android Developers, ARM & u/ManiacDC.