The next version of iOS may not be an upgrade for fans who use their iDevices to emulate classic games. The latest iOS 8.1 beta removes the famous (or infamous) “Date Trick” workaround used by iOS emulator makers to get around App Store restrictions at work, without the need to jailbreak the device.
Apple rules have long prevented emulators for classic game consoles and computers from appearing on the App Store, though some have managed to briefly sneak through (or more officially through a licensing agreement with rights holders). However, since last year, the makers of emulators like GBA4iOS and SNES emulator SiOS have been relying on a loophole called the “Date Trick” to allow these apps (and ROM files) to be downloaded and installed through the built-in Safari browser. The trick bypasses restrictions on unsigned apps by resetting the device’s date back at least two months, allowing users to easily run emulators to their heart’s content without jailbreak.
However, iOS 8.1 beta testers report that those days of easy emulation seem to be coming to an end in the latest update. GBA4iOS tester Dario Sepulveda writes that iOS 8.1 Beta 2 blocks the Date Trick fix, preventing the app from installing.
“Unsurprisingly, this had been going on for a long time; we knew this would come one day,” Sepulveda writes. “After the Date Trick became famous earlier last year, our panic subsided and we learned to live a period of peace, knowing that even though some of our favorite emulators’ certificates were revoked by Apple, we could still install these emulators by our date back – we started to believe it was something that would take a long time. It seems Apple had other plans.”
“The Date Trick feeds the emulator communities these days… without it, everything looks bleak,” he continues.
There’s no guarantee that this fix will make it to the final release of iOS 8.1, which is expected later this month, but it seems likely that Apple has finally patched what it sees as a vulnerability. Of course, iOS users can still jailbreak their iDevices and download emulators through various third-party app stores, but that means giving up access to Apple’s official support, opening yourself up to security risks, and waiting for new jailbreaks every time. Apple patches the operating system. If you don’t want that, well… there are some good classic console emulation options on OS X these days.