May 19, 2024

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The first Apple-certified emulators for iPhone have arrived

The first Apple-certified emulators for iPhone have arrived

I played Game Boy Advance games on my iPhone last night thanks to a new emulator called iGBA, which appears to be the first Game Boy Advance emulator on the App Store since Apple started allowing emulators worldwide. The only problem is that iGBA doesn't appear to be the work of developer Mattia La Spina.

Despite this, he says it's Apple that he's frustrated with, not La Spina.

Testut also made this statement for the edge:

I've been working with Apple to release AltStore as an alternative app marketplace for over a month now, and I'm disappointed to see that they approved a knockoff of the main AltStore app Delta at that time. However, we are still planning to launch Delta ASAP, and we will have more to share on that soon.

Here are some screenshots of GBA4iOS and iGBA for comparison, starting with the iGBA.

Screenshots from iGBA.
Screenshots: Wes Davis/The Verge

When contacted for comment, La Spina did not explicitly confirm the use of Testut code, but told it the edge “They didn't think the app would have so many repercussions, I'm really sorry,” they added, adding that they contacted Testut via email.

The other problem with iGBA is that according to Its App Store listingIt collects data that can be used to identify you, such as location data and identifiers. I suggest reading developer Mattia La Spina Privacy Policy Hosted by Github Before diving in. The app didn't ask for location data permission when I downloaded it, and I didn't see a browser tracking consent form within the app Some Reddit users reported seeing them.

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I know another emulator, spotted before the edge's Parker Orlotani. It is a Commodore 64 emulator It's called Emu64 XL. Here, I saw a consent request form filled with toggles for what seemed like miles of trackers. I didn't try to find or play any Commodore 64 games with the Emu64 XL and deleted the app.

Apple has tightly controlled the App Store since its inception. That control is now crumbling, as the EU's Digital Markets Act sees the company allow other app stores and sideloading on the iPhone. The company is also facing a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice that could force it to make similar concessions, which may be why the company started allowing emulators in the first place. Whatever the case, allowing emulators seems like a win; It's a shame that the first apps that take advantage of this don't measure up.

Updated April 14, 2024 at 11:17 AM ET: Updated with commentary from developers Riley Testot and Mattia La Spina.