Don't Hold Your Breath For Wii And GameCube Emulation On The iPhone App Store 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Apple recently relaxed its stance on retro gaming emulators on its devices, and we've already seen some notable emulators come to the App Store, including the superb Delta Emulator, which covers systems such as the NES, Game Boy, SNES and N64.

However, those of you holding out for GameCube and Wii emulation on your iPhone might want to temper your expectations somewhat, as the developer behind DolphiniOS (a fork of Dolphin) has said that it's currently not possible to bring it to iPhone.

In a blog post spotted by Retro Dodo, OatmealDome, the developer behind DolphiniOS, points out that the lack of support for the emulator's 'Just in Time' compiler is the reason behind the lack of support on iPhone.

"The GameCube and Wii have a PowerPC-based CPU inside them," explains OatmealDome. "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. 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."

Sadly, Apple doesn't allow apps to use JIT recompilers on iOS. "We submitted a DMA interoperability request to Apple for JIT support, but Apple denied the request a few weeks ago," adds OatmealDome. "It’s hard to tell exactly why Apple is so hesitant to open up JIT support. It’s possible that they consider it to be a security risk."

While it's technically possible to run Dolphin without its JIT compiler, the interpreter is many times slower than the JIT compiler, as you can see from the example videos below.

The clips were recorded on an iPhone 15 Pro Max, the most powerful iPhone currently available.

"While we could submit DolphiniOS to the App Store with just the interpreter, we would likely get endless complaints from users about the poor performance," says OatmealDome. "App Review might also just reject us anyway because the app is unusable."

In summary, the developer says that it's unlikely that DolphiniOS will come to the App Store unless "Apple loosens their restrictions on JIT."

Until that happens, DolphiniOS is only available outside of the official App Store. You can download it via AltStore here.

[source, via]