Apple may have been the first to release a smartphone equipped with a 64-bit processor, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is light years ahead of its competitors as 64-bit support on Android isn’t too far off and smartphone vendors like Samsung will soon join the 64-bit bandwagon.
At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF 2013), it was explained in detail how the semiconductor company was working to support the Android platform and in one of the slides (as spotted on Reddit and first reported by Liliputing) titled “Enhancements on Android”, Intel highlighted 64-bit support. Intel’s latest Bay Trail Atom processors are certified 64-bit chips and as they have already started featuring in some tablets chances are that next version of Android a.k.a. KitKat may support 64-bit computing.
Further, ARM has already announced 64-bit variants of its Cortex-A53 and ARM Cortex-A57 chips and these will be used by chip manufacturers like Qualcomm, Nvidia and Samsung among others in their next generation chips.
The only piece missing from the 64-bit jigsaw is Android’s ability to support 64-bit chips. Google would need to work on bringing this to Android and provide its developers with the necessary APIs such that they can rework their existing apps to take advantage of 64-bit processors. Google might not need to invent the wheel again as Android is based on Linux Kernel which already has 64-bit support since 2004.
All-in-all the work needed to equip Android with 64-bit processing capabilities won’t be overwhelming – just produce Android compatible hardware with 64-bit chips; get developers creating new apps and rewrite existing ones that take advantage of this hardware.
Readers shouldn’t get too excited though as benefits of 64-bit processing on mobile devices are still far off in the future. 64-bit processing has its benefits in high-compute applications and users shouldn’t expect significant performance boost from their smartphones and tablets as these mobile devices are generally used for gaming and nominal document processing needs on top of voice / video calls, which really don’t need 64-bit processing capabilities.