Recently, a new emulator called iGBA made its way onto the App Store, allowing users to play Game Boy Advance games on their iPhones. However, the origins of this emulator have raised some ethical concerns. Developer Riley Testut claims that iGBA is an unauthorized clone of his open-source emulator, GBA4iOS. He also pointed out that iGBA does not reference the GNU GPLv2 license, which could be a violation of its terms.

In addition to its questionable origins, iGBA also collects data that can potentially be used to identify users, such as location data and identifiers. While developer Mattia La Spina has provided a privacy policy on Github, it may not be enough to alleviate concerns about user privacy. Despite this, some users have reported not being asked for location data permission when using the app, and have not encountered the in-app browser tracker consent form that others have mentioned.

The fact that iGBA was allowed onto the App Store reflects a larger shift in Apple’s policies regarding emulators and third-party app stores. Apple has traditionally tightly controlled the App Store, but regulatory pressures, such as the EU’s Digital Markets Act and a US Department of Justice lawsuit, may be forcing the company to make concessions. This newfound flexibility has allowed emulators like iGBA to enter the App Store, much to the delight of users.

Final Thoughts

While the availability of emulators on the App Store is certainly a positive development, the controversy surrounding iGBA raises important ethical questions. From its disputed origins to concerns about data collection, iGBA serves as a reminder of the complexities of the mobile app landscape. Moving forward, it is essential for both developers and users to remain vigilant about the apps they use and the potential ethical implications of their choices.


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