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6 Best iOS Emulators For PC (Windows And Mac) To Run iOS Apps cover

6 Best iOS Emulators For PC (Windows And Mac) To Run iOS Apps

Nintendo, in 2004, released their gaming console to the world as Nintendo DS where DS stood for “Dual Screen.” Considering the technology and features of 2004, Nintendo DS had everything (and a bit more at a few segments), such as dual screen, one of which was a touch screen, and incredible speed and execution powers. As a result, surprisingly, it was a smash hit among the masses leading to two more versions Nintendo DS Lite (2006) and Nintendo DSi (2008). All of them were the same models except for a few improvements on the hardware and design side. These Nintendo systems sold 154 million units and became the world's second-best-selling video game console.

Nintendo DS

With the passage of time and a good run witnessed by Nintendo DS, the company officially shut down the consoles with the following message on their official website:

Please note: The manufacturing of the Nintendo 3DS family of systems has ended.

But people do not leave their favorite games as quickly as Nintendo left their product. Soon Nintendo-specific emulators started emerging in the market that not only allowed just playing Nintendo games but also playing them in upgraded hardware with 4K resolution. As a result, Nintendo games are still alive and in use.

This short case study highlights the power of emulators. A software that can not only keep the legacy going but can also help reach audiences who are otherwise not in a position to download/purchase/use another software. On the same line of thought, we will discuss a few desktop-based emulators that help us run iOS apps without actually owning an iOS device.

When do we need iOS emulators?

Before discussing the best iOS emulators for PC, we must know the scenarios where we may encounter a need to download an emulator on the desktop.

Testing

To the developers and people involved in creating applications for iOS, the primary goal of downloading and working on an emulator is to test the application. For a developer, you cannot keep packing the binaries on the system, copy them over to the physical iOS device and install them just to see a debug statement. The quickest path is to use the emulator for the same. With just a single reload button click, you are ready to see the changes.

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Similarly, the testers cannot keep all the physical iOS devices to themselves and test every little patch while performing mobile testing. Theoretically, they can, but this would result in time wastage that could have been used for other useful stuff. Also, emulators resemble physical devices in many fields and are safe to use and get accurate results. We have crafted a special post just to highlight the differences and comparisons between emulators and real devices. Check out this post to learn insights into the methods you can use for quality iOS app testing.

Run an application only made for mobile

To explain this point, PUB-G stands to be the best example. A gaming application with 30 million daily active users, PUB-G has enjoyed great success in this department. However, since multiplayer games like PUB-G are played by multiple real persons in a single match, the games become competitive. Hence, we see the use of hacks, loopholes, cheats, etc., in the game. Similarly, players started using emulators to run the mobile version of PUB-G on their PCs. Since iPhone users had a smaller screen, they used emulators well.

This is a popular example, but the practice remains the same with other applications. There is a large chunk of applications just made for mobile without any web application or desktop application for the user. You can open your iPhone now and find a majority of applications would be mobile-based (as simple as Gallery or Messages). To use any application on a PC, you can use an emulator and operate it more conveniently.

Analyze an application on the bigger screen

A big screen is extremely convenient to work on. I mean, who doesn’t like a big screen? And how cool it would be if you could open the application of your iOS device and easily operate on them using a keyboard and mouse? Well, I know not all of those would give an enjoyable experience. However, a few would make you feel blessed when you see them on a desktop/monitor screen. For instance, photo editing iOS applications can give a clear view and sharper control when opened on a desktop.

Operate applications when you don’t own an iOS device

Finally, the last important reason to use an iOS emulator is when you do not own an iOS device. A large part of the end-users uses an emulator to operate on iOS devices due to multiple reasons. For instance, you wish to play a game that’s unavailable on Android. Or all your friends might be using a chat application developed solely for iOS, and you wish to join in too. For such reasons, iOS emulators become a feasible choice compared to buying a new iOS device. They are free and consume little memory.

Best iOS emulators for PC

Alright, we are now all set to explore some of the best iOS emulators on the internet, what they offer, why we have picked them up and where to find them for download.

Appetize.io

Appetize.io is an efficient browser-based emulator, which means you don’t need to install any application to run the emulators. You can upload and install the app directly from the browser without additional tools or plugins. The upload process could be different for different domain experts, though. The users who are looking to run the emulator to operate an application can upload directly, similar to uploading a file. For testers and developers, you can use either an API or third-party integrations.

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Highlighting features:

  • Playback options: The emulator website provides multiple URL options on a single run of an iOS application. These contain numerous query parameters for you to make notes at.
  • Embedding the application: Since Appetize uses a web browser with URL links even while operating the application, you can embed these URLs directly to your website. This can be done in an iFrame-based embedding fashion.
  • Direct command issue: The testers can issue direct commands on their embedded iFrame through query parameters. These commands, when received, will be converted into actions reflected on the web page. For instance, postMessage('requestSession', '*') is equivalent to “play” action.
  • Support: Appetize team supports their customers on the technical as well as management side. Should you require, they can prepare a custom template for your launch page. This makes the organization reliable and trustworthy.

Testsigma

Testsigma is an automation testing tool covering various domains, one of which is mobile automation testing. The perfect mix of test cases with efficient emulators for iOS applications gives Testsigma an added advantage over other emulators. While others allow you to upload and manually inspect the application, Testsigma gives you the freedom to write test cases that can be used on other iOS-based devices later. All this without knowing any programming language.

That said, it does not mean Testsigma is focused on just the testing department. It provides simple manual usage for people who wish to use it to explore or operate an application involving no testing. This can be achieved without paying any dime.

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Highlighting features

  • NLP-based testing: Testsigma allows you to write test cases in plain English. This eliminates complex test cases, lowers time and money on training, and brings more talent to the organization.
  • Easy to maintain: Since the test cases are written in English, the testers don’t need to dig into complex dependent functions to rectify a bug. Just change the snippet, and you are good to go.
  • Open-source: Testsigma is open-source. So, a tester can even tweak the code and be assured that all the latest technologies will arrive quickly on the platform.
  • Easy to start: For individuals looking for quick solutions, Testsigma is easy to start with multiple integrations and platforms accessible from within the account.

Eclipse

While the name “Eclipse” certainly points to the IDE, its name does coincide with one of the best iOS emulators for PC. Eclipse is a very simple emulator with only one goal: running a mobile application meant for iOS. Therefore, if you are a tester, you won’t probably benefit from this. If there is a need to fit this into a perfect domain according to its working, I’d keep it inside the gaming section because of the features it provides.

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Highlighting features

  • Web-based: Eclipse is a web-based emulator that helps when the personal system is short on CPU resources and memory. It also helps to run it from anywhere.
  • Useful Integrations: Being a web-based emulator, Eclipse provides some awesome integrations that are useful as we go through them. For instance, people can connect Google Drive and Dropbox directly to their emulator for easy operations.
  • URL and ROM feature: You can add ROM and URL to the emulator for adding applications easily and operating them as close to an actual iOS device as possible.

Smartface

In our list of best iOS emulators for PC, we cannot settle on generic emulators. General emulators are costly to develop, and there may be only a few of them that work best in every field. Therefore, it is better to focus on a single domain if the emulator is worth it. Some emulators are best used for a specific purpose such as Eclipse for games and some are best used for testing, such as Smartface.

Smartface, as a complete package, is an IDE rather than a standalone emulator. Although, it ships with an in-built emulator. The software, however, is only recommended for testing purposes from our side.

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Highlighting features

  • Cross-platform emulator: Smartface can run a single codebase for applications related to iOS and Android on the same emulator. So, it is easier for testers when they have applications for different operating systems.
  • No need for compilation: The Smartface emulator does not need any compilation of the code for every change. Just save and reload, and the changes will automatically reflect on the emulator.
  • Mac and Windows supported: Smartface allows you to run iOS-based applications on a macOS or Windows OS.

Corellium

One of the most advanced iOS emulators for PC is Corellium. A good contender to be one of the best iOS emulators for PC, Corellium has taken the lead in optimizing not only the virtual devices but also the hardware behind them. They explain their methodology in a self-explanatory picture:

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Combine this with cloud technologies like AWS, and you will have a powerful system without owning a single physical device.

Highlighting features

  • Extremely secure: If you are concerned about privacy, Corellium could be your best choice. Corellium commits to not collecting any data from their virtual devices or the network. Whatever you do, is kept just to yourself always.
  • Tons of tools: Corellium comes with tools for every task, and the tester can decide which one they need to put. The tester can connect devices (even jailbreak) and perform actions. The tester can also monitor networks and connect to debug tools.
  • Sensor configuration: The tester can change sensor parameters to test the mobile application accordingly. For instance, the battery levels can be changed, location and motion of the device can also be altered.
  • Kernel debugging: Since Corellium controls the hardware, it also controls the kernel usage. So, the tester can make changes to the kernel and even upload their ARM kernel.

Xamarin

Microsoft’s product to strengthen its integrated development environment Visual Studio and the official language they support – .NET and C# is Xamarin. The software whose primary focus is to write and test the application (both Android and iOS) on both Windows and iOS is extremely efficient, especially if your app is on C# or .NET. The best part of Xamarin, as glorified by Microsoft, is its ability to share code and build cross-platform applications.

Although, it is true that if an individual is looking to run an iOS application without any motive for development or testing, Xamaring might not be the best choice.

Highlighting features:

  • Open-source and free for use: Xamarin is part of an open-source .NET platform and is free to use for everyone.
  • Multi-language support: Xamarin’s library is compatible with other libraries written in languages such as Java or C++/C. So, if the developer already has a pre-written library from another application, that can be easily integrated with Xamarin.
  • OS-specific features: Xamarin provides features specific to the operating system for which the developer is building the application. For Android, we get JIT compilation; for iOS, we get AOT compilation.
  • Reliable: Xamarin is supported by Microsoft and is open-source too. These two things make it highly reliable, and you can be sure that it will be in the market with regular updates for the developer and tester.

This part on Xamarin concludes our list of best iOS emulators for PC (Windows and macOS). On the internet, you may find additional emulators such as XCode or iPadian. Since we wished to make this generic and cover every domain (not only testing), this looked like the best combination. If you have any special requests or queries regarding emulators, let us know in the comment section.

Conclusion

Emulators are the most efficient way to run an application meant for another device on the device you own. They are not as unpredictable as simulators and not as expensive as real devices. As a result of these characteristics, they are used worldwide for a lot of different purposes, some of which were shared in this post.

In this blog, we went through the best iOS emulators for PC to run iOS applications on the desktop running Windows or macOS. We tried to maintain the range for all the domains for all types of readers. I hope this blog helps you next time you think about installing an emulator on your PC. Thank you for giving this post your valuable time.


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