Apple boots popular GameBoy emulator ‘knock-off’ from its iPhone App Store — Furious developer of the original decries Apple's App Review process

iPhone 15 Review
(Image credit: Future)

The App Store has finally opened up to allow video game emulators and the biggest launch so far has shined a spotlight on problems with Apple’s review process. 

GBA4iOS was an emulator that originally launched over a decade ago, allowing users to play GameBoy games on their best iPhone. After being taken down, Riley Testut, its developer, made the entire app open-source, meaning anyone could access the code and get it running themselves, with enough know-how. Over the weekend, another developer took advantage of it being open-source to put up their own copy of the app, which Testut lampooned on his Mastodon account

Testut laments the fact that the app knock-off sat at the top of the App Store charts “despite being filled with ads + tracking” and says he did not give permission for any developer to create it. He follows this up saying “I’ve bit my tongue a bunch in the past month…but this really frustrates me. So glad App Review exists to protect consumers from scams and rip-offs like this 🙄“. This is a very tongue-in-cheek way of sardonically criticizing Apple, as it allowed a “knock-off” of his app, despite the fact that his own app has reportedly been ready to launch since March 5. Delta, his new and improved emulation app has been approved for distribution and we think it could make the iPhone the ultimate emulation smartphone. The posts in question don’t clarify whether or not Testut has submitted the app for review, and he didn't say yes when asked if he had yet.

A bigger problem 

MacRumors reports that Apple removed this GameBoy emulator knock-off for breaking App Review Guidelines in relation to spam and copyright. Despite this, we don’t actually know the specifics of these claims or what Apple alleges the app broke. One could assume spam and copyright are both related to the fact that this app was not originally created by those who published it but Apple has not yet confirmed this to be the case. 

This is part of the problem right now with new apps, in the wake of emulators being allowed on the App Store. Testut is growing frustrated with how long the approval process can take with apps, despite copies of his own app getting the green light for publishing. In a follow-up post, Testut clarified that he is not mad at the developer. “My frustration stemmed entirely from the fact we’ve been ready to launch Delta since last month. This whole situation could’ve been avoided if Apple hadn’t delayed approving us until after changing their rules to allow emulators”

We have reached out to Apple for comment

More from iMore

James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.