Apple blocks UTM SE PC emulator from app stores, says it’s not a retro console

“Hello, I’m a Mac,” says Justin Long. “And I’m a PC,” responds John Hodgman. That’s how the famous Apple ad went, but there is something that the ad didn’t say – the “PC is not a console”. This is why the UTM SE app was blocked by the Apple App Store Review Board.

UTM is an app that allows you to run virtual machines on iOS – it supports Windows, Linux and other OSes with emulation of x86-64, ARM64 and RISC-V processors. It supports JIT, which Apple frowns upon, so the team submitted the UTM SE version – “slow edition” with no JIT.

Apple recently started allowing emulators on the App Store after over a decade of blocking such software. However, it only allowed emulators for retro consoles. And a PC is not a console, despite a wealth of old DOS and Windows games.

UTM’s statement
the UTM app

UTM’s statement • the UTM app

In a tweet announcing this development, the UTM team writes that the SE version is a “subpar experience and isn’t worth fighting for” (because it was slow without JIT). So, unless Apple changes its mind – or has its mind changed for it – this is the end of the road for UTM SE.

This is because Apple can not only block the app from its own app store, it can also refuse to allow its distribution through third-party app stores.

If you’re wondering how UTM even worked in the first place, the answer is sideloading (for iOS 11-13, which requires a $99/year developer account) or jailbreaking (iOS 14). The hope with SE was that it would give users an easy to install version, but that isn’t happening (at least not for now).

The European Commission was already looking into Apple’s revised app store rules and whether they comply with the Digital Markets Act, this will add another wrinkle into the proceedings.


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