Starting as of September, Google has started requiring app developers to update their apps with 64bit AArch64 support. Any app that fails to comply with this will no longer be able to upload any new APK to the Google Play Store.

Until now, the main RetroArch build has been built for 32bit ARM processors. This means that even on a 64bit device, if you were using this 32bit build, you would still have access to all the 32bit compiled cores.

This all changes now as a result. Under the new model, we are forced to build in both 32bit and 64bit support for the main RetroArch app. What this means is that 64bit devices will default now to the 64bit version, whereas 32bit devices will default to the 32bit version. It’s not possible to boot into 32bit mode for the Google Play Store version.

We unfortunately cannot do anything about this. What this means is the following:

  • Some of the cores available for 64bit ARM might lack a dynamic recompiler. As a result, cores like PCSX ReARMed and Picodrive might be significantly slower now as a result on a 64bit device. Fortunately, work is underway to backport a 64bit dynarec to PCSX ReARMed, and similar for Picodrive.

On the plus side, Aarch64 tends to have about a 10% performance boost in general for RetroArch vs. regular 32bit builds. So it’s not all bad news.

If you’d still like to use a 32bit only build, you can go to our buildbot and download the 32bit only version there. We just are not allowed to upload this version to the Play Store, since every app uploaded from now on has to work for 64bit as well.

Important news for people upgrading

If you are upgrading the app from 1.7.7 to 1.7.8, you might find that the core updater URL is still pointing to the 32bit cores, and you might find that a lot of the cores you downloaded will no longer work (because it boots you into 64bit mode now). 32bit cores cannot be ran on 64bit apps and vice versa. So, what you have to do is

  • First, make sure that you reset the Core Updater URL properly. Go to Settings -> Network, and scroll all the way down to ‘Updater’. Go to the entry ‘Buildbot Cores URL’, and long press. If done correctly ,it should reset the URL. Now exit the program and restart again.
  • From there, you will have to redownload the cores from the Online Updater.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to bother with all this, just reinstall the entire program from scratch, that way it will start out with sane defaults.

Other considerations

What this also means is:

  • The 64bit specific version on the Play Store┬áis pretty much redundant now, and you might as well use the main Play Store version. We are unsure yet if we are going to delist the 64bit only version or have it remain up. Just know that it no longer serves a purpose.
  • RetroArch can now be built using Gradle/Android Studio. This should significantly reduce the barrier to entry for developers wanting to get to grips with RetroArch, but were unable to do so in the past as it required an old Android toolchain as well as tools like ant.
  • It might appear on Android TV soon for 64bit apps.

Hopefully this upgrade process will have as little bumps in the road as possible. We’re sorry for this inconvenience but this is really not our fault, and our hands are tied. As ever, if you want a 32bit version on your 64bit device, go to our buildbot, and download the latest dated version ending with ‘RetroArch_ra32.apk’.