Apple recently made headlines by rejecting the submissions of iDOS 3, a new version of the popular DOS emulator, and UTM SE, an app that allows users to emulate operating systems like Windows on iOS. Surprisingly, these rejections were made under guideline 4.7 of the App Review Guidelines, which actually allows for retro game emulators. This decision has sparked a debate in the tech community about Apple’s vague and inconsistent policies.

Chaoji Li, the developer of iDOS 3, expressed his frustration with Apple’s decision. According to him, Apple stated that the app provides emulator functionality but does not specifically emulate a retro game console, which goes against guideline 4.7. When Li sought clarification on what changes he should make to comply with the guidelines, Apple had no concrete answers, leaving developers like him in the dark. This lack of clear communication from Apple only adds to the confusion surrounding the rejection of these apps.

UTM SE, another app facing rejection from Apple, also shared its experience. The App Store Review Board deemed that “PC is not a console,” despite the fact that there are retro Windows/DOS games for the PC that UTM SE can run. In addition, Apple cited guideline 2.5.2 as a reason for the rejection, which states that apps must be self-contained and cannot execute code that changes the app’s features or functionality. This decision by Apple has left UTM SE unable to be notarized for third-party app stores, further limiting its reach.

Apple’s decision to reject these retro game emulators has left many perplexed. While guideline 4.7 allows for certain software that is not embedded in the binary, it seems that Apple does not consider iDOS 3 and UTM SE to qualify for this exception. Despite clarifications from Apple, developers are still left wondering about the criteria for complying with these guidelines. The lack of transparency in Apple’s decision-making process only adds to the frustration felt by developers.

Some speculate that Apple’s recent openness to retro game emulators is a response to antitrust scrutiny. By allowing these apps on the App Store, Apple may be trying to show that it is opening up its platform to more third-party developers. The launch of support for third-party app stores in the EU earlier this year further supports this notion, as Apple aims to comply with regulatory requirements set forth by the Digital Markets Act.

The rejection of iDOS 3 and UTM SE sheds light on the challenges that developers face when trying to navigate Apple’s App Store guidelines. The ambiguity and inconsistency in Apple’s decision-making process make it difficult for developers to create and distribute apps that push the boundaries of innovation. As the tech community continues to push for more transparency and accountability from tech giants like Apple, it remains to be seen how this battle of retro game emulators on the App Store will unfold.


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