News: Dolphin emulator for GameCube/Wii gets unofficial experimental iOS support through pull request!
Compared to Android, emulation offerings on iOS aren’t as numerous and well-supported even though the hardware of some iOS devices is pretty powerful. However, things seem to be changing as Dolphin may finally be coming to the platform in one way or another!
PR for Experimental Support published
This pull request was accompanied by a decent deal of documentation, the main points of which are:
- The effort behind the pull request was made in order to initiate discussion as to whether iOS is a platform that Dolphin ought to support
- The build system is based on the Android one with image assets being taken directly from there
- Currently, the interface is a rudimentary state although touch controls do work.
- If work on this port goes forward, the interface needs a good deal more work and the codebase will transition to Swift from Objective-C as much as possible
- The Vulkan backend is used for rendering although an unusable OpenGL one is still provided for now.
It’s important to note that due to the memory requirements of Dolphin, a jailbroken device is effectively required (or modifications to the bootloader) since it needs an entitlement which lets access more memory than Apple allows 3rd party applications to use. This pull request was made possible through the amalgamation of previous pull requests that were denied mostly due to the aforementioned memory issue which is effectively fixed now.
Which devices are supported? How do I get it on my device?
According to the aforementioned pull request, not all iOS devices are supported although many popular devices are. Supported devices include:
- Apple A9/A9X devices which include the iPhone 6S(+), iPad Pro 1st generation (9.7/12.9”) and iPad 5th generation
- Apple A10/A10X devices which include the iPhone 7(+), iPad Pro 2nd generation (10.5”/12.9”), iPad 6/7th generation and the iPod Touch 7th generation
- Dolphin will probably run best on 2nd generation iPad Pros as they have 4GB RAM (other supported devices have 2/3GB) and the best GPU, outperforming even that found in the A11 by a good margin.
- Apple A11 devices which include the iPhone 8(+) and iPhone X.
As things currently stand, it’s unclear whether Apple A12/A13 devices are supported since the people behind the porting effort don’t have the hardware to test them. Furthermore, Apple A7/A8 devices aren’t fully supported as their GPUs don’t support some features required for the Vulkan rendering backend although OpenGL rendering is supported even though it’s unusable. iDevices sporting the Apple A6 and older aren’t supported at all which comes as no surprise.
Right now, there’s no pre-built IPA for Dolphin on iOS although there are build instructions which let you produce your own compiled binaries provided you have access to a macOS computer with XCode 11 installed. However, it’s likely that a pre-compiled IPA file will eventually be made available. A jailbroken device is effectively required for the proper functioning of Dolphin on iOS.
With Dolphin having made significant strides on iOS, it might be a good idea to grab yourself a DualShock 4 or an XBOX One S controller soon if you can find a Black Friday deal since iOS 13 natively supports these controllers. Without a doubt, playing Mario Kart Wii and Zelda titles on an iPad Pro is pretty cool and will surely shut up anyone who claims Android is superior based on emulation capabilities!
This video demonstrates performance on multiple Apple devices