Apple says no to PC emulators on iOS

Apple might finally allow retro video game emulators on the App Store, but this month, the company rejected submissions of iDOS 3, a new version of the popular DOS emulator, and UTM SE, an app that lets you emulate operating systems like Windows on iOS. In both instances, Apple said the new releases violate guideline 4.7 of the App Review Guidelines, which is the one that allows for retro game emulators.

Chaoji Li, the developer of iDOS 3, shared some of Apple’s reasoning for the rejection with The Verge. “The app provides emulator functionality but is not emulating a retro game console specifically,” according to Apple’s notice. “Only emulators of retro game consoles are appropriate per guideline 4.7.”

“When I asked what changes I should make to be compliant, they had no idea, nor when I asked what a retro game console is,” Li said in a blog post. “It’s still the same old unreasonable answer along the line of ‘we know it when we see it.’”

UTM posted about its rejection on X. “The App Store Review Board determined that ‘PC is not a console’ regardless of the fact that there are retro Windows / DOS games for the PC that UTM SE can be useful in running,” according to the post.

UTM also noted that Apple is barring UTM SE from being notarized for third-party app stores because the app apparently violated guideline 2.5.2. That rule states that apps have to be self-contained and can’t execute code “which introduces or changes features or functionality of the app, including other apps.”

Apple typically hasn’t allowed just-in-time (JIT) compilation. However, and somewhat confusingly, UTM said that UTM SE doesn’t include just-in-time compilation. Additionally, Apple clarified that guideline 4.7, which allows apps to offer “certain software that is not embedded in the binary,” is “an exception that only applies to App Store apps” but isn’t one that UTM SE qualifies for, UTM said in a follow-up post.

Apple didn’t reply to a request for comment.

Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in other App Store spats, the developers are at the mercy of Apple’s fickle decision-making. “In short, as the sole rule maker and enforcer in [the] iOS ecosystem, they don’t need to be consistent at all,” Li said in an email. And UTM said it isn’t going to push further for UTM SE to be on the App Store because it thinks the app “is a subpar experience and isn’t worth fighting for.”

Apple likely opened the door to retro game emulators in April in response to antitrust scrutiny, while it launched support for third-party app stores in the EU in March so it can comply with the Digital Markets Act.

Author: Jay Peters
Source: Theverge

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