Wednesday, September 20, 2017

farewell 32-bit iOS apps...

Well, we knew this day was coming... with the release of iOS11, Apple is dropping support for 32-bit apps. I can't blame them, entirely - eventually a company should probably decide to drop the technical weight of supporting everything forever. Still messages like "'ThisApp' May Slow Down Your iPhone" "If no update is available, contact the app developer for more information" were kind of disingenuous. It's stretching it to say it "slowed down the phone" - it would take a moment to setup the legacy libraries, and it's less memory efficient, but really the transition was seamless.

But contact the developer? As if the problem was they didn't know... more "nag the developer and hope that they care about this app even though they didn't figure out how to make it financially viable on an ongoing basis".

If you want to find out what apps you might lose if/when you upgrade to iOS11, go to Settings App, General | About | Applications.

The damage was less bad for me personally than I had feared. I just wanted to take a second to note the apps as I say farewell...


  • ENDI Tank was a playful 3D tank game, taking place in a sandbox. Seems to be a student game, from the École Nationale de Divertissement Interactif , but it was nicely balanced and looked great.
  • Little Master Cricket is a simple physics game from the maker of QWOP. I guess you can play it online (if you still run Flash anyway... sigh.) - balls got pitched in and your batsman had to hit them away and protect the wicket, or whatever cricket is about. It was a fun quick-hit.
  • Truckers was a raucous 16-bit-graphic-flavored semi-driving romp, a bit like Outrun. It's so well polished that I'm surprised it never saw an update. 
  • Big Fat Lies was one of the best "entertain people incuding the driver" car games I've seen. A bit like that part of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me", two outlandish stories would appear and the current player would have to say which one was false.
  • Galcon was a primitive but fun 2D Real Time Strategy game that I've seen on many platforms, send your hoardes of triangular spaceships to take over planet by planet, turning each into a ship manufacturer to increase the size of your fleet. It was kind of inspiring because I knew it was written in Python/PyGame, back when I thought everything for iPhone had to be in ObjectiveC.
  • Weightbot was a terrific little weight tracking tool that made nice little bloops and blurps and clicky noises as you entered your weight. I was using it from 2010 'til this year. Now I use "Weight Record", which has a very similar vibe, but isn't as cute, and with much less satisfying clicks.
  • You've Gotta See This! was a fine bit of photo-stitch software, using the then-new gyroscope to let you wave around the camera and then put together panoramas of the result:
    I have a few similar programs, but haven't yet searched to see if anything does quite as well as this one.
So apps I won't miss: Cracked - "Cracked Lite" has been superior for a long time for reading that great content. I guess duplicates the website functionality which hasn't felt trustworthy in a while. 20 Questions was another car-able game, mostly just a collection of words to guess. That just leaves iMetronomeTempoTool (heh, kind of a port of an app I wrote for Palm PocketC to tell me what the current BPM are) and SimpleResize - I think these are all utilities I can find replacements for if/when the need arises.

With today's curated online appstores, digital archiving becomes harder and harder- a harsh reality for a lazy retrogamer like myself. Even before this great 32-bit-app purge, there was a great 2D Tank game called "Tron" that Disney commissioned when the new movie came out that has been AWOL for a while. And it's not just Apple - even on Xbox Live, there's a Doritos-sponsored game called "Dash of Destruction" that had such fun with scale - playing on the same board as either a GIANT dinosaur or a tiny delivery van - but if anything ever happens to my hardware I'll probably lose access to the game. For digital historians it's a tough road to hoe.

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