The first Apple-approved emulators for the iPhone have arrived

I played some 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 globally entire. The only problem is that it doesn’t appear that iGBA is developer Mattia La Spina’s own work.

Despite this, he says it’s Apple that frustrates him, not La Spina.

Testut also provided this statement to The edge:

I’ve been working with Apple to launch AltStore as an alternative app marketplace for over a month now, and I’m disappointed to see that they’ve approved a knockoff of AltStore’s flagship app, Delta, during that time . However, we still plan to launch Delta as soon as possible, and we will have more to share about it very soon.

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

a:hover):text-gray-63 (&>a:hover):shadow-underline-black dark:(&>a:hover):text-gray-bd dark:(&>a:hover):shadow- underline-gray (&>a):shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:(&>a):text-gray-bd dark:(&>a):shadow-underline-gray”>Screenshots: Wes Davis / The Edge

When contacted for comment, La Spina did not explicitly confirm the use of Testut’s code, but said The edge they “didn’t think the app would have that much of an impact, I’m really sorry,” and added that they contacted Testut by email.

The other problem with iGBA is that, according to its listing on the App Store, it collects data that can be used to identify you, such as location data and identifiers. I suggest reading developer Mattia La Spina’s Github-hosted privacy policy before diving in. The app didn’t ask for location data permission when I loaded it, however, and I didn’t see the consent form for the in-app browser tracker on some Reddit. users reported seeing.

I know of another emulator, spotted by The edge’s Parker Orlotani. This is a Commodore 64 emulator called Emu64 XL. Here I saw a consent request form filled with buttons for what seemed like miles of trackers. I did not attempt to find or play Commodore 64 games with Emu64 XL and deleted the application.

Apple has tightly controlled the App Store since its inception. That control is breaking down, with Europe’s digital markets law forcing the company to 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 could explain why the company started allowing emulators in the first place. Either way, allowing emulators seems like a victory; it’s just a shame that the first applications to take advantage of it aren’t quite up to par.

Updated April 14, 2024, 11:17 a.m. ET: Updated with comments from developers Riley Testut and Mattia La Spina.

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