App Store legal requirements for (non-gaming) emulators?

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by asiga, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. asiga macrumors 6502a

    Nov 4, 2012

    I've searched about this, but found no good info about this subject. What are the App Store legal requirements for submitting a (non-gaming) emulator?

    By "non-gaming" emulators I refer to emulators of systems whose main purpose isn't gaming, or that can be used for tasks other than gaming.

    I've found ZX Spectrum emulators at the App Store. They include the original ZX Spectrum ROM from Sinclair, but this ROM was released with a free license some years ago, so it is legal to include that ROM in any product you develop.

    Also, there're HP calculator emulators at the App Store. My favorite one (m48+) asks you permission to connect to the Internet and download the original HP48 ROM from an external site. I'm not aware of the legal status of that ROM, but I find it quite a rare behavior for an app approved into the App Store.

    There's also the iDOS emulator, which is an interesting case: It was approved in 2010. It was pulled from the App Store a week later (why????). Years later it was approved again (why???????), and last time I checked it was still at the App Store.

    I've read Apple doesn't like emulators being able to run applications inside them. But I don't care whether Apple likes or dislikes something, I just want to know the real requisites for approval.

    Is there any real list of certain requirements an emulator must meet for being approved into the App Store? Where is it?
  2. dejo Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    The Centennial State
    From the App Store Review Guidelines:

    The fact that some emulators have been approved doesn't mean yours will also be approved. Perhaps the reviewer didn't truly understand their purpose, or Apple is turning a blind eye to some of these, or some other reason. The app approval process can seem like something of a black box at times.
  3. asiga thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Nov 4, 2012
    Thank you. It's very disappointing to read these guidelines. Any emulator running on iOS is sandboxed, so any application running inside an emulator is sandboxed too. It's clear the guidelines aren't just about security. Anyway, I guess there would be still a way of distributing emulators for iOS: shipping them in source code form and requiring that all users have a developer account, so they can install it in their devices. I think not even Microsoft in their worst days were like this (and their behavior and strategies were what made me switch to the Mac and other platforms... how unpredictable does life get at times...)

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