The purpose of this topic is just to make sure that the best iOS emulators or iPhone simulators are talked about in detail with their features highlighted.
If you are among the people who are impressed by the iPhone X but still hard pressed between choosing iOS over your current OS, don’t worry. I can only tell you that you are not alone because many people are finding themselves in the rut. Especially people who have never had the chance to use an iOS-powered device.
The good news is that you can somewhat experience how iOS works using an emulator. The wonderful world of software has multitudes of iOS emulators that you can use to experience how iOS is.
This is to see whether or not the person who is willing to shift to iOS is comfortable enough with the iOS environment for not. At the time of the writing, the emulators are largely available for Windows. While some of them are also available for Mac, and for online use.
There used to be iOS simulators for Android, but they are no longer working. With that said, I will be mentioning all the working iOS emulators along with their download links. This is to ensure that the reader does not end up in a confusion when the emulators fail to work at all.
Reasons You Should Use an iOS Emulator
There is no denying that the emulators have existed for quite some time now. While many people associate emulators as a way to play games that are not supported. The actual use-case is broader than just gaming.
Many of my peers use emulators to test out certain features in a different ecosystem. Since emulator is the near-perfect replica of that ecosystem, it gives way to decide whether or not an app, or a website is stable enough for the ecosystem.
There are countless reasons why one should use an iOS simulator or any emulator for that matters. For starters, it beats the need to have a separate device running that operating system.
Below are some of the reasons why you should use an iOS emulator.
iOS Emulators Let You Run iOS Apps on PC
The best reason to use an emulator is that it eliminates the need for having a separate device for testing your applications or websites. You can simply emulate iOS, and load your app to see if it works or not.
The same process goes for testing an application. Emulating can potentially save you a ton of time, and you can even troubleshoot on the go. So, if you find any bugs while testing, you can iron them out before you are pushing for the final release.
Many developers tend to use emulators over actual devices because it is cost-effective as well.
It is Cost Effective
The good thing is that with emulators you really don’t have to worry about the incurring cost. In most cases, you only have to buy the emulator for once. Then you are good to go. It is definitely better than buying devices and then seeing if they can run the older or newer versions of the OS.
This sort of thing does not happen in emulators as they cater to almost all the OS versions. Ultimately saving you the cost that you would spend on a new device.
You Can Use it Casually
It surely sounds silly, but there are times when you want to play a game that is exclusive to iOS only. In a situation like this, instead of buying an iOS device, emulating is cheaper. You will get the same experience, and not to mention, emulators like iMAME will give you game specific advantages as well.
Anyone willing to play iOS games on their PC without buying a new iOS device can benefit greatly from these emulators.
Best iOS Emulators for Windows
There is no need to buy a brand new iOS device just so you can test it, and if the official Apple showroom is nowhere near where you live, then an emulator is your best friend. This particular section is going to cater to the needs of all the Windows users who want to try out iOS.
The first iOS emulator on the list is MobiOne Studios. Before we begin, I must add the disclaimer that the emulator has been discontinued by the developer, but still works when downloaded.
Using this emulator allows the users to test out various iOS apps or games on their computers with great ease. Plus, the emulator is not resource hungry at all, giving you the ability to run it on pretty much any device without worrying about hardware limitations.
The emulator is also really good for developers who want to develop cross-platform applications for smartphones. Last but not the least, the MobiOne Studios can even enable status notifications that replicate the full-blown iOS notifications.
The next emulator to run iOS apps on PC is Smartface; the emulator is more centered towards the professional users. That is because developers have been using this emulator to develop the apps for iOS, and properly test out the apps to see whether or not they are operational.
Smartface mostly caters to the professional users, and that is why the emulator starts from $99, but there is a free version available if you want to test it out. It works best when you have to test cross-platform iOS apps.
It is also important to know that Smartface is probably the most feature-packed iPhone emulators available for use.
App.io is one of my favourite iPhone emulators that are available on the Windows. The best thing about the emulator is the fact that it is free. Apart from being free, the emulator is also simple, and easy to use. It does not require a lot of hassle in setting up, and thus can be set up by pretty much everyone.
It is one of those iPhone emulators that focus on the simplicity of; users are only required to sync the app bundle or the apk with this emulator, and they are good to go. Once the emulator is fully setup, you can use it however you want.
Whether you want to test cross-platform apps, or just play some iOS exclusive games, it gives you all.
Quite an unusual name for an iPad emulator, but if you are in search for something that is simple to use, and does not require you to run in circles, then it is a good choice for you. iPadian has been the emulator of choice for many professionals as well as hobbyists.
The reason behind this is rather simple to understand, it works regardless of the user’s advanced knowledge. It is flexible, and offers a simple install and use situation. You really do not need to go into technical bits.
The UI is also another strong part; it is self-explanatory, user-friendly, and works without any lag.
I will be honest here, at first, I was under the impression that this is not a software to run iOS apps but for something related to food. The naming scheme is the reason why I got confused. Luckily, the confusions went away soon after I downloaded and installed it.
The Appetize.io is a unique take on iOS emulators to run iOS apps on PC; not only it allows you to run iOS apps, but it also lets the users develop cross-platform apps on the cloud through this emulator. Downloading and using the emulator is free for the first 100 hours.
However, after that, you will be charged a nominal fee of $0.05 per hour. This is not a bad fee at all for an emulator that aims to make things easy for a lot of people.
If you are familiar with the Adobe AIR framework, then you must know that it is impressive, to say the least. It is good to see more programs being based on the same framework that is making the rounds for some time now. The AIR iPhone is an emulator that is based on the same framework we have come to love.
Installing and using this emulator is hassle-free, all you need to do is to download the emulator, install it along with the AIR framework, and you are good to go. Once all is done, you can go ahead and use the AIR iPhone without any issue.
Another amazing offering on the list is the iPhone Simulator, I remember using an iPad Simulator back in the day but that has been removed now. The iPhone Simulator is mainly used for games because of the lack of advanced features, but the good thing is that it is not entirely a bad thing, to begin with.
For starters, you can replicate an iPhone with great ease and play all the games you want on it. The support is limitless, and you will not run into any issues. Considering how the purpose of this simulator is to focus more on the gaming side of things, the graphics are amazing.
The iPhone Simulator is easy to use, and happens to be very convenient for both advanced, and intermediate users.
The next iOS emulator to run iPhone apps on PC comes in the form of Xamarin TestFlight, the first official Apple emulator that is made for testing the apps developed for iOS. However, there are some limitations to the use of Xamarin, for starters, the emulator will only run apps that are developed to run on iOS 8.0 or later.
As compared to some of the other options that are available in the market, the Xamarin TestFlight is a bit complicated to properly run. It is more suited for professional use rather than conventional use but works well in both cases. If you can get over the learning curve, the TestFlight happens to be a great iPhone simulator.
Electric Mobile Studio
The next one is the Electric Mobile Studio, a professional grade mobile iOS emulator that is used by professionals. It offers a lot of features that cater to both iPhone, as well as iPad web-development.
The free trial is definitely available, but the full version is available for $40 on the website. While it might be expensive for many people, it certainly is a good investment if you are looking for a full-blown alternative that will work in every case.
Simply put, if you are a professional developer who is looking for something more than just an emulator, the Electric Mobile Studio is a great option that you should definitely consider.
Ripple is among my favourite emulators that are available for iOS. Most of the emulators that I try or review are normally focus towards intermediate use. Meaning there is not a lot of substance in them.
However, there are some exceptions that go above and beyond to provide the best emulating experience. One such example is Ripple, a brilliant emulator that is used for testing old and newly developed applications, as well as older applications.
The best thing about Ripple is that it is a Chrome extension, so you don’t really have to go through the complicated setup process to get it up and running. The software is still in beta stage, so some bugs are going to be there, but for the most part, it works wonderfully.
iMAME is less of an emulator for iOS testing convenience, and more focused on allowing you to be able to play iOS games on your computer. I have seen many people who want to play the iOS exclusive games on their computers, and iMAME is a perfect option.
The good thing here is that the software is light on resources, and will not run into hiccups or other similar issues. But at the same time, the fact that it is more centered towards gamers shows that it will cater more towards specific features than the overall iOS experience.
Still, the iMAME is a pretty amazing emulator for iOS that will run all the games that you wish to play.
Best iOS Emulators for Mac
Many people might find this ironic, but if you are a Mac user and still want to test your iOS apps to ensure that they are working the way they are supposed to, then the iOS emulator for Mac is what you need.
Luckily, there are some iOS emulators for Mac available for download, but they are not available in abundance, so you have a few choices. But since they are developed for Mac, with Mac’s ecosystem in mind, you can expect a lot of refined elements.
App.io makes a return, but this time, it is coming back as an iOS emulator for Mac rather than for Windows. Yes, it is available on both platforms, and both versions run perfectly fine. Sure, you might feel at home with the Mac version since there is a close link of all the operating systems under Apple.
The emulator is designed with great finesses, and works the same way, ensuring that you get the best possible experience without any major drawbacks holding you back. Just know that it is not free, but there is a 7-day trial for all those skeptical people.
Another returning name in the Mac section is none other than the Appetize.io, and I have seen many people compare it with the App.io for all the right reasons. Both the emulators share some similarities, turning them into a competition.
Just like the Windows version, the Mac version is made with great finesses, and with the goal in mind that the experience will be streamlined and as smooth as possible. The testing phase went smoothly despite the fact that it is more centered towards developers.
The start of this program is a bit sluggish because it takes time to load all the assets, but once that is done, the entire process becomes smooth and streamlined.
The last emulator for Mac is the Xamarin TestFlight, an emulator which is now owned by Apple. So, obviously, I was going to give this a try. It is not free, and the setup is somewhat complicated, but the good thing is that it works eloquently.
It is more centered towards developers, and people who wish to test out their websites, or cross-platform apps on the iOS ecosystem but I can assure you that it will work really well without any hiccups.
Android or iOS, emulators are becoming an essential part of both ecosystems. Mainly because developer prefers to test their apps properly before submitting them for publication. It is important to keep in mind that having a device is much more expensive than using an emulator.
Plus, most emulators even let you test the cross-platform apps to see if they are working or not. As compared to the Android emulators, the iOS emulators are not as abundant, but still available.
The list covers almost every good iOS emulator that is available for download. Initially, I was going to add Android-based iPhone simulators as well, but they are no longer supported.