[Update] Game Boy emulator sneaks onto App Store disguised as messaging app

App Store
App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A Game Boy emulator disguised as a messaging app has made its way onto the App Store.
  • It lets users search for ROMS or directly download titles like Pokémon, Super Mario, and more.

Update: 1/11/21 6:47 am EST GBA emu has now been removed from Apple's App Store

A Game Boy emulator disguised as a messaging app has snuck its way onto Apple's App Store.

As noted by users on Reddit, the app 'GBA emu' is listed on the App Store (opens in new tab) as an "app for GBA player community." Screenshots from the app's listing show what appear to be "channels" where players of various Game Boy titles can meet like-minded players and talk to them. As the Reddit post notes, however, this is actually an emulator that lets players access ROMS and direct downloads of titles like Pokémon and Super Mario.

Image From Ios

Image From Ios (Image credit: iMore)

As you can see from our screenshots, the app has an extensive list of Game Boy titles as well as a method to download ROMS directly from the web.

Image From Ios

Image From Ios (Image credit: iMore)

The app itself is actually quite sophisticated with settings for frame skipping, autosave, vibration and haptics, and even AirPlay.

Of course, this is a pretty flagrant breach of App Store guidelines, and the app will likely be removed swiftly by Apple. So, if you want the chance to emulate your favorite Game Boy titles on your iPhone you'll need to be quick about it. As per the App Store guidelines, apps must clearly state their functionality and not have any hidden features that aren't described in the app's metadata. Given the app was allowed onto the App Store, it seems pretty clear the app's true function wasn't disclosed when it was submitted. Not only that, selecting a game brings up a warning stating that tapping download confirms that a user has a physical copy of the game in question. The app states that "app does not promote pirating in any form", however, this is pretty open to obvious copyright abuse.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9