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This Optional Pixel Update Hints at the Future of Android

These beta builds are for developers.

The back of the Google Pixel 6 Pro in-hand
Justin Duino / Review Geek

In October, Google officially confirmed that its new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro were the first Android phones to support only 64-bit apps, which should offer several benefits. However, with the recent release of Android 13, those with a Pixel 4a or newer can try it too.

Keep in mind that these 64-bit updates for older devices are considered “beta builds,” and Google only recommends developers use the software to test against apps and services. That said, anyone interested in going 64-bit on an older phone can now do so. A move that hints at the future of Android releases.

For those wondering, by dropping support for 32-bit code, Android phones and applications run faster and perform better. According to Google, 64-bit apps “run faster because they have access to extra registers and instructions that aren’t available to 32-bit apps.” And when dropping support for 32-bit, it saves Android up to 150MB of RAM used by the OS. As a result, this results in fewer background apps getting killed, smooth performance, and “less jank.”

Switching to 64-bit only improves device and app performance. At first, not all Android apps could operate this way, so Google warned that some Pixel 7 owners wouldn’t be able to install and use all apps. However, this wasn’t much of a problem, and now it’s expanding access to older devices.

As spotted by Android Police, Google is now offering beta builds and factory images of Android 13 in 64-bit only for the Pixel 4a through the Pixel 6. These factory files are available to download from the Android Developers website.

Remember that this is beta software, and you can’t get it via a regular over-the-air software update. Instead, users must manually flash the factory image files. Google says these “images provide a strict 64-bit-only environment for testing 64-bit app compatibility. These 64-bit-only configurations are for developer use only.”

While we wouldn’t recommend regular users flash these builds of Android 13 on a Pixel phone, you can if you’d like. They’re mainly available for developers. That said, Google will likely upgrade select older devices to 64-bit-only in the future.

via Android Police

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »