Here’s why this GameCube, Wii emulator won’t come to the App Store

DolphiniOS screenshot

Joe Hindy / Android Authority


  • The developers behind a GameCube and Wii emulator for iOS have revealed that it isn’t coming to the App Store.
  • The team said that Apple’s refusal to offer JIT recompilation is the reason why the app won’t appear on the storefront.
  • JIT recompilation is an important feature to boost performance in demanding apps like emulators.

Console emulators have long been barred from the App Store by Apple, but the company finally allowed these apps earlier this month. We’ve already seen the great Delta emulator for retro Nintendo consoles coming to the App Store, but you shouldn’t expect GameCube and Wii emulators on the storefront any time soon.

The team behind the DolphiniOS emulator, a fork of the popular Dolphin emulator, has revealed in a blog post (h/t: 9to5Mac) that it can’t bring its app to the App Store due to technical restrictions. More specifically, Apple doesn’t allow apps to use just-in-time (JIT) recompilation, which is a performance-boosting software technique.

JIT recompilation is used to quickly translate GameCube and Wii game code from PowerPC (the type of chip used in these consoles) to Arm (the type of chip inside iOS devices).

It turns out that the developers asked Apple to implement this feature:

We submitted a DMA interoperability request to Apple for JIT support, but Apple denied the request a few weeks ago.

Just how essential is this feature for the DolphiniOS emulator? Well, the developers posted a video (seen below) showing a game running in DolphiniOS on the iPhone 15 Pro Max without JIT. It doesn’t make for pleasant viewing owing to the slideshow-like nature.

JIT recompilation is clearly essential to emulating more demanding consoles. Google allows Android apps to use JIT, which enables the platform to offer performant emulators for consoles like the GameCube, Wii, PlayStation 2, PS Vita, Switch, and more.

For what it’s worth, PPSSPP creator Henrik Rydgård previously stated that his PSP emulator didn’t require JIT to run well on modern Apple CPUs. That’s likely because the PSP simply isn’t a technically demanding console to emulate in the first place, as even cheap Android phones released in the last few years can run the app.

Either way, this restriction means Android will still be the best smartphone platform if you want to emulate the widest variety of consoles. But iPhones should still suffice if you don’t plan to go beyond the PS1 and Nintendo 64 era.

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