Danish Kapoor
Danish Kapoor

Apple does not accept PC emulators in the App Store

Apple may have taken a significant step in accepting retro game emulators to the App Store in recent months, but its rejection of popular PC emulators such as iDOS 3 and UTM SE this month has sparked new controversy in the tech world. Apple stated that both apps violated Article 4.7 of the App Store Review Guidelines. This clause only allows retro game console emulators.

Chaoji Li, developer of iDOS 3, explained some of Apple’s reasons for rejection to The Verge. According to Apple, “The app provides emulator functionality but does not emulate a specific retro game console.” Apple has stated that only emulators of retro game consoles are allowed. “When I asked what changes I needed to make to adapt, I didn’t get an answer,” Li wrote in a recent blog post. “They also didn’t give a clear answer when I asked what a retro game console was.” he said. Apple’s response was again vague and was “we’ll know it when we see it”.

UTM SE shared a similar fate. In a post on the X platform, UTM explained that Apple stated that “PC is not a console.” This ignored the fact that UTM SE could run retro Windows/DOS games. UTM also stated that it prevented the app from gaining approval for third-party app stores. Apple claimed that UTM SE violated the 2.5.2 directive. This rule requires that applications run on their own and do not run code that will change the features of other applications.

Apple generally does not allow Just-in-Time (JIT) compilation. However, UTM stated that UTM SE does not include JIT compilation. In addition, Apple clarified that the 4.7 guideline only applies to App Store apps and that UTM SE does not comply with this rule. UTM stated that Apple refused to notarize under the 2.5.2 guideline and that the 4.7 guideline only applies to App Store apps.

As with other App Store disputes, developers are forced to submit to Apple’s unclearly motivated decisions. “In short, they don’t need to be consistent as the sole rule maker and enforcer in the iOS ecosystem,” Li said in an email. UTM stated that it would not make any further efforts to have UTM SE included in the App Store and stated that the application “provides a subpar experience and is not worth the struggle.”

Apple opened the door to retro game emulators in April in response to antitrust investigations. It also started supporting third-party app stores in the EU in March in order to comply with the Digital Markets Act. However, these latest events show that Apple’s policy regarding emulators is still not entirely clear.

Danish Kapoor