touchHLE is a new iPhone OS emulator that lets you play 32-bit iPhone games on Windows

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Remember the heady days of 2010 when iPhones were only $199 on a two-year contract? Well, now you can relive those days with touchHLE, an iPhone OS 2.x emulator that will let you turn your Microsoft Surface into a virtual mug of beer. Remember those apps? It’s written in Rust and can run on any 64-bit potato that has Windows or Mac OS on it. No Linux support yet.

touchhole does things a bit different from other emulators as it only simulates the operating environment, meaning you do not need to provide an OS image. It reimplements all the core components necessary to get the job done, like Foundation, UIKit, OpenGL ES, OpenAL, and others.

The goal of touchHLE is not to emulate an entire iPhone from yesteryear. No sir, its goal is the noblest of all; it lets you play your 32-bit games that are no longer supported on modern versions of iOS. Currently, touchHLE only supports apps that will run on iPhone OS 2.x, but the author plans to support apps for newer 32-bit versions of iPhone OS and iPad OS in the future. Support for iPhone OS 1.x is a possibility, but promises have not been made for this yet. So far the emulator has only been tested with iPhone/iPod touch apps for iPhone OS 2.x.

For now, touchHLE only works on 64-bit systems, ironically, which at this point should not be a barrier to entry. Android support is on the roadmap but work on that has yet to be started but should be a real conversation starter if it gets off the ground. The big bummer here is that touch input doesn’t work yet – only mouse and keyboard for now.

Development for touchHLE began in December 2022 and is a one-person project which is quite impressive since its already in a functional state. In this initial release, touchHLE only supports Super Monkey Ball, which was a launch title for the App Store way back in 2008. However, all the features of the game work including sound effects, music, save game persistence, and more. Though there is a known issue with memory leaks on the Mac version.

To use touchHLE, you need the prebuilt binary release or you can build it yourself. Both the binary and source code are available on Github. You also need a decrypted app to run. So far, you aren't able to use .ipa files, so you will need to unzip them and get the .app bundle out of them. TouchHLE does not have a graphical user interface, so you need to use the command line to run it but instructions for this are on the homepage.

touchHLE is a new emulator that’s meant to do one thing; play 32-bit mobile games, and development is moving fast. It offers full support for Super Monkey Ball after less than two months of development and may someday allow you to play these old iPhone games on Android. What a time to be alive!

Source: touchHLE homepage

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