I played Game Boy Advance games on my iPhone last night thanks to a new emulator called iGBA, which appears to be the first Game Boy Advance emulator on the App Store since Apple started allowing emulators worldwide. The only trouble is, it doesn’t look like iGBA is developer Mattia La Spina’s own work.

Here are some screenshots for comparison, starting with iGBA:

Screenshots: Wes Davis / The Verge

Testut originally published the emulator as an open-source project on GitHub, but he was forced to take it down after Nintendo sent GitHub a DMCA takedown notice. Now it’s hosted on Bitbucket. We’ve reached out to both Testut and La Spina for comment.

The other issue is that, according to iGBA’s App Store listing, it collects data that can be used to identify you, such as location data and identifiers. I’d suggest reading developer Mattia La Spina’s Github-hosted privacy policy before diving in. The app didn’t request location data permission when I loaded it, however. Also, some Reddit users reported seeing an in-app browser tracker consent form when loading the app — I didn’t see this, myself.

I’m aware of one other emulator, spotted by The Verge’s Parker Orlotani. It’s a Commodore 64 emulator called Emu64 XL. Here, I did see a consent request form populated with toggles for what seemed like miles of trackers. I did not attempt to find or play any Commodore 64 games with Emu64 XL and deleted the app.

Apple has tightly controlled the App Store since its inception. That control is breaking down now, with the EU’s Digital Markets Act making the company permit other app stores and sideloading on the iPhone. The company also faces a US Department of Justice lawsuit that could force it to make similar concessions — which may be why the company started allowing emulators in the first place. Whatever the case, emulators being allowed feels like a win; it’s just a shame the first apps to take advantage of that are also kind of shady.


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