GameCube & Wii Emulator Dolphin May Not Launch On iPhone

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In what will undoubtedly be sad news to many, the developer of popular GameCube and Wii emulator ‘Dolphin’, has confirmed the app won’t be coming to iPhone.

Over the weekend OatmealDome, the developer behind DolphiniOS, shared a blog post explaining why iPhone users won’t see Dolphin or its variants on the App Store.

The reason behind Dolphin’s App Store absence is that Apple does not allow ‘Just-In-Time’ (JIT) technology on its platform, an essential tool that enables Dolphin to run with good performance.

OatmealDome further explained why JIT is so important for the Dolphin experience, “The GameCube and Wii have a PowerPC-based CPU inside them. All modern Apple devices use an ARM-based CPU. It isn’t possible to directly run PowerPC code on an ARM CPU, and vice versa. Therefore, if we want to run a GameCube or Wii game on an iPhone, it is necessary to translate the game’s PowerPC code to ARM so that the CPU can understand it.” 

JIT enables the PowerPC-based to ARM-based CPU translation and OatmealDome confirms that “Dolphin uses something called a Just-in-Time (JIT) recompiler to achieve this. Whenever the emulated console wants to run game code, Dolphin will use its JIT to translate the PowerPC code to ARM, and then execute the results.”

The App Is Unusable

Gamecube and games selection

The DolphiniOS team have approached Apple to try and get Dolphin running on iPhone using JIT, without much luck. “We submitted a DMA interoperability request to Apple for JIT support, but Apple denied the request a few weeks ago.”

OatmealDome suggests that Apple has security concerns relating to the implementation of JIT, musing that the platform holder could consider the technology as a “security risk”.

It is technically possible to run Dolphin on iPhone without JIT, however the downgrade in performance is substantial, as evidenced in the videos below from OatmealDome’s YouTube channel.

It appears the developer, understandably, isn’t keen on releasing DolphiniOS in a comprised state, revealing that “we would likely get endless complaints from users about the poor performance. App Review might also just reject us anyway because the app is unusable.”

OatmealDome’s blog post comes a fortnight after Apple revised their App Store guidelines, allowing retro game emulators onto the iOS digital marketplace. Since then, Nintendo emulator Delta has taken the App Store by storm, with other emulators such as PSP’s PPSSPP and multi-system emulator Provenance set to follow later this year.

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retro dodo team 2024

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