Ever wanted to play your favourite iOS games on your Windows, Mac or Android device by iOS Emulators? You’re not alone. Thousands of people search for this online every month and they also search iMessage on PC.
The sad reality is that they won’t find anything. At least, not right now.
There are some iOS exclusive titles I’d like to play myself. But with my PC and Android phone, that’s just not possible. I did some digging though. I wanted to know why. I wanted to know what the closest thing to an emulator is that we have available to us.
If you’ve been asking yourself these questions, you’ll be happy to hear that I’ve found the answers.
Read on to discover why no emulators exist, what the difference is between simulators and emulators, and what your alternatives are to iOS emulators.
- What Is An iOS Emulator And A iOS Simulator?
- Wait, Why Do We Want An Actual Emulator?
- Why Can We Emulate Android On PC, But Not iOS?
- What Are Our Alternatives To Emulators?
- Best iOS Emulators For PC/Windows
- Best iOS Emulators For Mac
- Best iOS Emulators For Android
- The Final Word
What Is An iOS Emulator And A iOS Simulator?
You probably know what an emulator is. It’s a program that “emulates” the hardware of a machine, right? It clones the operating environment by using the source code of the original machine.
Much like the SNES and GBA emulators that are so popular and available on just about any platform. Who doesn’t like a little Mario Bros or other classics every now and then? Just as a side note on this, make sure you actually own the games.
Downloading roms is definitely illegal if you don’t – just so you know.
But as long as you own the games, there’s nothing wrong with a little classic Pokemon (red, yellow and blue on the GBA!), or Ogre Battle – or whatever your fancy is in games (let us know in the comments what you love to play?).
Anyway… and then there are simulators…
A simulator doesn’t clone the behaviour of the hardware, like an emulator does. It simply “simulates” the UI and some basic functionality. So while you’ve got a program that looks like an iPhone and feels like an iPhone, it is not an iPhone (or a duck).
So when you download one of these simulators, you’ll soon find that you can’t download and install any apps on them. They have only the most basic of functionality. It basically just clones the UI and that’s it.
So while you can explore the interface, you can’t do very much else (most times you won’t be able to open anything – just scroll around and that’s it).
Difference between Emulator and Simulator – Video credit by Like Mindz
Wait, Why Do We Want An Actual Emulator?
Well, the first and most obvious reason would be to have some fun playing our favourite titles.
Or maybe you’re considering buying an iPhone, but you’d like to try it out first?
Developers, especially, would find a good emulator useful. At the present moment, you need an IDE like Xcode to be able to test out your app.
But having a lightweight, working emulator is what we truly need. Just imagine being able to get feedback from all your friends – before your app is released on the store.
Now, there are some pretty decent iOS emulators for Android. But they just don’t run iOS apps very well. Laggy and buggy, they need a lot of work.
As you’ll discover at the end of this article, however, the iOS emulators for Android are our best bet at having a fully-fledged iOS emulator in the future. And since basically everyone either has an Android phone or an iPhone, that makes perfect sense.
There are good Android emulators for PC though. Would you like a list of these? Let us know in the comments below…
Why Can We Emulate Android On PC, But Not iOS?
Well, Android is partially open source, and iOS partially closed. But we won’t go into great detail right now. The point is you can get hold of all the source code you need to create Android emulators that are effective. And with Apple, well, you’d probably need to hack into Apple’s system with the help of an insider.
But definitely don’t try that. I wouldn’t want you to end up in jail.
Apple’s licensing is more strict than Android’s. They don’t publish their source code openly, and that makes creating a true emulator extremely difficult. Sure, there are bits of Apple’s source code that have been published. But not nearly enough to create a real emulator.
So when running a simulator, you won’t be able to load your Apple ID or Jailbreak. You won’t be able to run any apps effectively. It’s basically just a clone of an iPhone’s UI.
Maybe one day Apple will change their ways, and be more like Android. So devs can easily pick up the source code and create solid iOS emulators for both Windows and Mac.
It would make the developer’s life so much easier.
What Are Our Alternatives To Emulators?
Two big mentions, before we get to the reviews section, is Android Studio and Xcode.
They’re mostly used for development though. Android Studio allows you to create what’s called an Android Virtual Device. You can emulate just about any model of Android phone you want, and any screen size – but it’s only going to test the app you’re building at that point in time.
Xcode, on the other hand, allows you to install and test apps. It’s the closest thing we have to an iOS emulator right now. But Xcode is not designed for this purpose, and therefore it takes some work to get it right.
Check out this guide to discover how you can install apps on your PC or Mac using Xcode.
It’s time to take a look at some apps that claim to be emulators.
I must warn you, that if you’re going to download iOS emulators, be careful. There are many programs out there that may install malware and other harmful software on your device. Be sure your internet security is on par before dabbling with these.
Also, remember that there are no true emulators for IOS or iPhone emulator for PC, but we’ve picked the closest things we could find for you.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at:
- iOS Emulator for PC/Windows
- iOS Emulator for Mac
- iOS Emulator for Android
Best iOS Emulators For PC/Windows
1. iPadian: an iPad emulator for pc – Rating 9/10
The video demo by iPadian
It was a tough choice between the top 3. They’re all very good – as simulators go – but iPadian stands out.
I’ll admit, I had to do some extra reading to help me come to a final conclusion. But in the end, I think it’s their website that swayed me. They don’t promise anything huge. They tell you, quite clearly, that it’s a simulator and not an emulator.
This kind of honesty can be refreshing in today’s world, right?.
Probably the biggest drawback to iPadian is the fact that there is no free version.
2. Smartface – Rating 9/10
The screenshot from the Smartface video.
Smartface lost out on the top spot only because it’s not a simulator.
It’s an IDE (Integrated Development Environment), like the aforementioned Xcode and Android Studio – and many other entries on this list. It won’t let you run just any app. But it does let you emulate the app you’re currently working on. So it’s a great tool for developers.
For us normal folk, not so much.
Definitely give Smartface a try if you’re planning on developing your own apps.
3. MobiOne Studio – Rating 8/10
Another IDE. But again, it lets you test all the functionality of the app you’re currently building. You can’t access the app store, load your Apple ID or Jailbreak, but at least you can work on what you’re creating with confidence.
It’s another IDE that comes highly recommended, with a sleek and easy-to-use drag and drop interface.
However, it does lose a point for not having true cross-platform support (no Android functionality). But they are working on it.
So if you’re a cross-platform developer and you like this IDE, watch this space.
4. Appetize.io – Rating 7.5/10
Appetize lets you upload your app and test it right on your browser. As far as convenience goes, it’s great.
It lets you run your app on any computer – and supports any mobile device, any operating system, and any version. It’s also basically a development tool.
And a really good one at that. Definitely earns it’s spot on this list.
5. Ripple Emulator – Rating 7/10
Ripple is another great development tool. While it’s not an IDE, it is a good simulator capable of simulating multiple mobile platforms.
It’s got a tiny download size of just 4.5MB on the Chrome Web store. So you can very quickly and easily download and test it out yourself.
It could do with some extra functionality. But for the moment it definitely has the lightweight aspect of a good simulator down.
6. iPhone Simulator – Rating 6/10
You can check them out right now – they’ve got a light simulator right on their website. But to be honest, it lacks pretty much all functionality of the actual phone.
But my guess is perhaps I just can’t figure it out. I’ve heard great things. And maybe the download is way better.
To be honest, with how unfriendly the webpage is, I didn’t download the full simulator. And I do apologize for that.
But do let me know in the comments if you downloaded and liked this one?
7. Xamarin: iOS emulator for Windows 10 – Rating 5/10
Xamarin is the only simulator on this list that basically has a requirement to download. That’s because it’s an extension for Visual Studio. It’s backed by Microsoft, so a big plus on that front.
But given that you actually need Visual Studio in the first place loses it some points. There’s no standalone version available (as far as I can tell).
But if you’ve ever wanted to learn some C-language programming and have an interest in Visual Studio, go for it.
Highly recommended for those already familiar with Visual Studio.
These are all the iOS simulators that I found useful. I originally wanted to list at least 10 here, but at this point, there’s nothing else worth mentioning.
There is one more thing to note though. None of the above will allow you to load up your Apple ID or Jailbreak. There are a few apps in the last section (iOS emulators for Android) that promise you’ll be able to use Jailbreak. But I’m skeptical.
If you feel like I’ve missed something really good in the PC department, please feel free to let us know in the comments.
For now, though, let’s get on to the next section.
Best iOS Emulators For Mac
You may be wondering… why can’t I just run iOS apps on my Mac by default? It’s the same company, right?
Well, iOS and MacOS are completely separate operating systems. There are, again, no real iOS emulators for the iPhone on Mac.
Which is strange, isn’t it? I mean, you’d expect a company like Apple to use their products to sell each other. But then, people may find less need for an iPhone or iPad if they had an emulator for their Mac.
So what can you do on Mac, instead of actually buying an iPhone?
First off, you should look for an alternative to the app you want to run for the MacOS. If you can’t find one (rip-off or otherwise), then you would do well do consult the above list for PC. Most of these options have cross-platforming available, so you’ll be able to get them on both Windows and Mac.
But in the spirit of lists, here’s a very short list as to what would be most suited on Mac.
1. iPadian – Rating 9/10
That’s right, it runs on Mac too. And being a proper simulator, it’s exactly what I was looking for in the beginning.
So whether you have a Mac or a PC, don’t hesitate to grab a copy of iPadian. It’s a very decent piece of software that won’t leave you disappointed.
Unless, of course, you’re looking for a true emulator. In which case… well, we’ve been over that, haven’t we?
2. Xcode – Rating 5/10
This is more of an honourable mention at this point. If it was featured on the above list, it most likely would have slotted in pretty low, if not at the very bottom.
Make no mistake, Xcode is a powerful program – capable of meeting all of your development needs. But not everyone who wants an iOS emulator is a developer, right?
Though it does have the option of running apps other than your own, as mentioned above. But if you’re not already familiar with Xcode, you’ll probably have a hard time getting it right – to be honest.
At least, I know I would.
Nothing much more to say on Mac. I don’t own a Mac myself. But if you do and you wanted a good simulator, it would be best to go for iPadian – depending on your needs, of course.
Else you can go through the Windows list again and check which of those have downloads for Mac. Most of them are compatible with Windows, Mac and probably even Linux (I didn’t check that last one. Feel free to call me names in the comments for that one).
The last list before the big finale. Here we go.
Best iOS Emulators For Android
Now here’s an area in which there have been some big strides. This is probably the one area where developers have put most of their focus.
Why? Well, who wouldn’t want to run iOS apps on their Android device? The market is a lot larger than PC users who would like to do the same – the latter of which is mostly developers anyway.
That said, there aren’t many of these around. So enjoy this short list of 5.
Fair warning, however. Some of these emulators promise a lot and deliver much less. Such over-hype causes concern as to their legitimacy.
For that reason, we won’t be posting any links here. But a quick search will get you what you need. Just be careful. Make sure your mobile security is up to scratch.
1. Cider – Rating 10/10
You’ll remember all the talk about there not being any iOS emulators? Good. Your expectations for Cider are set then.
It’s not perfect. For example, it can’t use the camera, GPS and some other sensors. So games and apps that use those are out of the question. And most of the games you can run are horribly laggy. Some to the point of being unplayable.
But the thing is, they’ve managed to run iOS apps on Android. And that’s a massive achievement.
So watch out for Cider in coming years. The development team said that they weren’t planning on continuing development. But with so much demand for a good emulator, who knows?
Watch this space.
2. All In One iOS Emulator
A bad interface and questionable emulation put this one behind Cider. In fact, it puts this one behind some of the others in this list.
So why’s it here?
Yeah, you get Siri along with some other standard iOS apps with it. Which is more than some others on this list offer.
But again, games can be laggy to the point of being unplayable. In fact, that goes for all the emulators on this final list. So I won’t mention it again. Just know that if you try a complex iOS game with any of these, you’re most likely to run into lag.
New Update 2018: All In One iOS Emulator is not exist.
Zero in-app purchases earn iOSemus it’s place on this list. That, and it’s easy to use interface.
It’s said to run smoothly on any device. (yeah, right – try running an iOS game)
But it’s good. Make no mistake. In fact, all the emulators in this section are good. And that’s the reason there are no ratings. It’s really up to you about which features you want in an emulator.
New Update 2018: iOSemus only run on iDevices
Another excellent entry on this list. A sleek design and simple, easy-to-use interface set iEmu apart.
So what holds iEmu back? It takes A LOT of memory.
If your phone has less than 1GB of ram, you probably shouldn’t get it at all.
But other than that, it’s a great choice. It’s said to run any apps and can even be used to Jailbreak.
Yeah, it’s back.
But as we already know, it’s more of a simulator. So running your favorite iOS apps just isn’t happening on here.
But still, you could run this on all your devices. Your PC, Mac, and phone can all run it from the cloud. So it’s very, very useful to developers. The cloud-based browser extension makes your app easily accessible from anywhere.
So if you’re a developer on the go, this one’s for you.
iOS emulators may exist for Android. But they’re not great – really. You probably won’t be playing any but the most simplistic games. And you’d still experience some lag.
But they exist. And this is basically just the start.
Who knows what the future may bring? One thing we know for sure is that iOS emulators for Android seem to be the most promising so far. And we might soon have one that works flawlessly.
But then Apple would probably shut it down pretty quickly. So your best bet is to get yourself an iPhone.
I know my carrier often has deals for 2 phones. It’s designed for couples, but maybe you want to try both iOS and Android on the same contract? I can see myself doing that in the future.
But then my friend had a string of 3 iPhones which were all bad. He still uses iPhone, I still use Samsung, and I’ve never had a problem.
But that’s just my opinion.
The Final Word
That’s it for this article. If you liked it, leave us a comment below or share it with your friends.
If you didn’t like it, leave a comment and tell us why. But don’t state the reason “I was looking for an emulator”. So was I. And I’m just as disappointed as you that I can’t run sweet Apple apps on my PC.
But in time, who knows. If we consider how close Android apps have come to making quality emulators, it must only be a matter of time before something happens on the Windows front.
While I’m open to trying an iPhone as a second phone, I’ll stick to my Samsung (It’s one of the non-exploding versions). But as far as computers go, I’m just too damn happy with my Windows machine to consider a switch. Though I don’t like Windows 10 very much, to be honest.
So will you make any switches? What tech brands do you love and why? Aching to try out an iPhone, or got your eye on any App Store exclusive titles?
We’d love to hear from you.