Apple’s latest operating system for iPhones and iPads is just about here. The company released a developer beta of iOS 11 today. A public beta is coming later this month. And the first stable version of iOS 11 is coming to Apple devices this fall.

The update includes a new control center, improvements to Siri, Maps, Camera, Photos, and Apple Pay, as well as new multitasking features for iPads, and a new augmented reality platform called ARKit.

But there’s one new feature users have been asking for since the first version of iOS: a file browser. It’s not all good news though: iOS 11 is also dropping support for 32-bit apps, which means that you may not be able to run some older apps after upgrading.

The new Files app provides a way to access file stored on your device as well as items you’re keeping in cloud storage services including iCloud Drive, Box, and Dropbox. Even Microsoft OneDrive can integrate with the new Files app.

You don’t get access to the underlying file system, or what Android users would call root. But you shouldn’t have to dig through a bunch of different apps to find documents, images, or other items stored on your device or online anymore. Everything will be available from a central place.

So that’s Files.

As for 32-bit software? Well, there’s a few things going on here. First, iOS 11 simply doesn’t run on devices with 32-bit processors. That means the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c aren’t getting the update, and neither is the 4th-gen iPad. You’ll need something newer than those devices to run the operating system.

Theoretically Apple could have let you run 32-bit apps on 64-bit devices, which is a lot easier than doing things the other way around. But if you want to run a 32-bit app on iOS 11, you’re pretty much out of luck.

You can’t download them from the App Store. And if you try to sync them through iTunes, you just get a placeholder icon on your device.

At this point, there probably aren’t a lot of new apps being developed for iOS devices with 32-bit processors anyway. But if some of your favorite old apps haven’t been updated in a while, it looks like you might have to choose between keeping them and upgrading to iOS 11.

If this all sounds familiar, that’s because we started to see hints that Apple was going to phase out support for 32-bit iOS apps way back in February. But now it’s all-but-official.

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12 replies on “iOS 11 gains a file browser… loses 32-bit app support”

  1. After years of apple fans desperately evangelising how files are a relic of the past, and ios is better off without that feature. I guess this means it’s a step backwards.

    It’s like full screen applications, styluses and copy and paste all over again – you simply can’t trust any argument an apple fan makes.

  2. Fanboys laugh all you want, an improvement is an improvement.
    In this case, major improvement. Give iOS the option of selecting “Default Apps” then you may aswell just invite all the Android loyalist to switch.

    Where’s the practical improvements coming to Android?
    Such as Quick Updates, or Long-Support times, or Stronger Security, or better Developer Support.
    Until we see solid improvements in those shortcomings, I believe people should be open to improvements and not hypocritical. Competition is good for the industry, no?

    1. By quick updates, you mean quick release of a heavily customised build of say android 8.0 for your phone right? As of 7.0 the updates themselves only take a reboot.

      As for why those things aren’t commonplace… hmm, imagine before you can install a windows update, you must install 10 different drivers and if you don’t get them right from the start you don’t get to boot and must start again. We’ve got customisation without standardisation at the moment and it’s a pretty bad deal, for instance replacing a snapdragon 800 with an 810 requires a major redesign from hardware up. With x86, you can swap between any CPU in a generation or two with no ill effects because there’s at least some standardisation.

      1. Well, Yes and No.

        Some changes to the OS are relatively​ small, yet they require re-writing by OEMs. However, most OEMs have a Tree, in which they update their bloated base, then can easily rebuild off that for a dozen phones quite easily and push the update. However, since every OEM has a seperate tree/base it means the entire industry itself updates slowly.

        If the major base was by Google, we can get updates pushed directly like Windows. And the OEM customisations need not affected.

        People have said long ago that Google will move into this model, however that requires a major changes by Google…and they don’t care.
        How do I know?
        Developer r00t is dead (now we look for unofficial exploits), GPe is dead (never serious), AndroidOne is dead (some devices abandoned, project pretty much on hold), Nexus is dead (Google rather profits).

  3. I guess this is one way to get users of old iphones/ipads to upgrade. I know a lot of folks who have older “i” devices (ipads especially) that see no reason to upgrade. Their current device does everything they want to do. Seeing that their device will be left an orphan may get some of them to buy new devices.

  4. The major questions about Files: does it support all (user) file types and a mark-all command? Does it transfer to/from Windows PC via USB?

  5. Once they add mouse/touchpad & external monitor support then it’s pretty much over for OSX, and every other mainstream consumer OS too.

  6. I think it’s pretty clear at this point that Apple is going to replace lower end OSX devices with iOS devices. Probably followed not long after by the complete demise of OSX. I give it five years.

    1. Well , maybe this is the way (today if you want a mobile platform to work , a ipad is much better option than a macbook) but the demise from OSX is a loooooooooong way

    2. This was something I was predicting Apple would do a few years ago. Now I’m not entirely convinced that it will happen though. My reason is that the market isn’t showing any sign of needing a shift like that. They can claw some more of that market with some simple house-cleaning.

      As of their Q2 Financial report, iPad sales are down 19% from last year, and Macbook sales are up slightly.

      If people are not buying $500 tablets, it certainly isn’t at the expense of their $1000+ laptops.

      Their offerings in the $500-1200 price range are going to start dragging the company down soon. The iPad lineup isn’t useful enough (theyre still the same boring media-consumption/babysitter that they always have been), and the Macbook Air lineup is begging to be euthanized.

      If Apple wants to think about the low-end market (Sub-Macbook) they need to just do some house-cleaning:
      1. Make the iPads more functional, at least fork the model lineup
      2. Kill the Macbook Air lineup, and make the Macbook lineup dip down into that price range
      3. Make something new. A 12″ OSX tablet with a flip-cover keyboard would fit the bill.

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