And the Beta Testers Are…

When I selected beta testers for GBA4iOS, I wrote about how difficult it was to choose from several hundred applicants. While that was certainly true, it pales in comparison to this time. For this beta test, we expected another several hundred applicants, maybe even over a thousand, but these turned out to be severe underestimates. Less than 30 minutes after opening up submissions to beta test Delta, we had received over 150 responses, and less than a day later that number had soared to over 1000. So, how many applications did we receive after seven days?

10,165. Wow.

After an entire weekend of reading applications, we narrowed them down to 80 general testers and 40 press testers, for a total of 120 beta testers. Additionally, of those 80 general testers, seven submitted promotional artwork that will be used to promote Delta in the coming weeks. I could write more about how really, incredibly difficult (and long!) this process was, but since I think y’all just want to know who was chosen, I’ll skip all that.

So, ready to find out who was chosen to beta test Delta? Here they are!

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Delta Beta Testing

In my last post, I explained that GBA4iOS was more or less dead after Apple released iOS 8.1, which killed the date trick used to install the app. Now, two years later, I’m finally writing another post to confirm that GBA4iOS is finally, truly, dead.

And it feels great to say that.

GBA4iOS was a tremendous success; by the time it was finally killed, it had been downloaded over twenty-five million times, which still blows my mind. Clearly there’s a market for emulators on iOS, despite Apple’s policies excluding them from the App Store. However, for many reasons it made sense to let GBA4iOS die, so that’s exactly what happened (for one, GBA4iOS 2.0 was released when I was a senior in high school, when I had plenty of free time; now, I’m a junior studying Computer Science at the University of Southern California ✌️).

Eventually though, I began to wonder what I would work on next, and in March 2015 I wrote my first line of code on what would become GBA4iOS’ successor: Delta.

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GBA4iOS Is Dead. Long Live GBA4iOS

A Brief History

Seventeen months ago, GBA4iOS – our attempt at a Game Boy Advance emulator for iOS – was released. This wasn’t the first time an emulator had been released on iOS; in fact, iOS has had a rich history of emulators finding their way to the platform. However, because of Apple’s somewhat strict (or, as some might say, limiting) guidelines, these apps never had a chance of being approved for the App Store. Rather, they found a home in the far more lenient Cydia store, where users could find and download them as they pleased – assuming, of course, that they had jailbroken their device. While this worked, it severely limited the potential consumer base for the apps; some would be tempted to jailbreak to install the apps, but the vast majority (myself included) felt that jailbreaking required too many compromises for such a minute gain. If only there was a way to install apps not allowed in the App Store (also referred to as “sideloading”) without having to jailbreak a device first.

That is where GBA4iOS comes in, and why it found so much success despite not being the first (or even necessarily the best) Game Boy Advance emulator for iOS: it was a jailbreak app, but for non-jailbroken devices. But how was this possible? After all, Apple is notorious for locking down their platforms in order to ensure a consistent, safe environment for their users, so how is it that an app like GBA4iOS could be installed on anyone’s device – jailbroken or not – without breaking Apple’s rules?

The short answer is simple: it can’t. We broke the rules.

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Summer 2014 Project Roadmap

About a month ago, I graduated from high school. While I’ve been enjoying my time off and being social with friends (we only have a few months left before everyone leaves for college!), I certainly have been hard at work on not only GBA4iOS, but also a new app we call Hoot. However, between coding and spending time with friends, I haven’t taken much time to actively talk about what exactly was happening behind the scenes, and what you should look forward to seeing in the next few months. As such, I’ve decided to write this blog post outlining the project roadmap my team and I have in place for the summer, so you know exactly what is coming when and what to get excited for! Of course, everything here is just a plan; there are no guarantees as to the release date of anything, but we’re confident enough in our plans to give you our thoughts.

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What Is Going on With GBA4iOS?

Many of you have shared your concerns over the future of GBA4iOS in regards to some events that have happened in the past week. While my partner Paul Thorsen and I have been hard at work responding to these issues, we have failed to communicate exactly what was going on, and what steps we were taking to bring GBA4iOS back from its untimely DMCA death. As such, I’ve written this blog post in an effort to fill everyone in on why GBA4iOS was taken down, what Paul and I are doing to put GBA4iOS back up for download again, and also to correct some misinformation intentionally being spread in order to tarnish the reputation of GBA4iOS, Paul, and myself. Hopefully, by the time you are done reading this, any questions you may have about GBA4iOS’ future will be answered, and you may resume happily playing your favorite Game Boy games.

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GBA4iOS Hidden Features

Twenty-five years ago today, the Game Boy was born. With it came a wide array of exciting new games—including the first of many incredible Pokemon games—and the ability to play them wherever you were, because the system was small enough to fit in your pocket. Sadly, I never owned the original Game Boy, but one day my parents gave my siblings and me its successor: the Game Boy Color. I fell in love with it the moment I got it, and carried it around with me everywhere (and of course, we got the light accessory to shine on the screen, because this was before Nintendo added backlighting).

Now, twenty-five years later, the gaming landscape has changed dramatically. Not only has Nintendo’s own products evolved to essentially science-fiction levels of sophistication by 1989 standards (glasses-free 3D anyone?), but other companies have found themselves achieving tremendous success in the video game market, even those who originally had no intention of competing. Of course, I’m referring to Apple and the release of iPhone (and subsequently the App Store). I’m sure no one predicted that a mobile phone could disrupt the portable video game market as much as it did, but today it’s becoming more and more difficult to develop a game for dedicated game consoles when people are choosing to pay only a couple of bucks for a game on a device they already have with them at all times.

However, these classic Nintendo games still hold a place in many of our hearts, if only for the nostalgia we get from playing them and the countless hours spent trying to perfect our skills. It was because of this that I set out to develop the best Game Boy emulator for iOS, and with the release of GBA4iOS 2.0 just over two months ago, I’m closer than ever to achieving that goal. Of course, I still plan on updating the app with new features—expect linking between devices and the ability to change the color of original Game Boy games in a future update—but 2.0 is already home to a large number of features; some more obvious than others.

These less obvious features are why I decided to write this blog post; GBA4iOS is home to many features that people don’t know about, so I thought it would be best for them all to be collected in one place. More than likely you’ll know a few of these already, but I expect that most of you will discover a feature you didn’t already know about! Either way, it can’t hurt to relearn a feature you may have forgotten, so hopefully all of you will get something out of this post. If not, well, you always have future updates to look forward to!

So, without further adieu, here are all the obscure features of GBA4iOS.

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GBA4iOS Skin Contest Winners

Just over two weeks ago, I (finally) wrote up the complete instructions on how to create custom GBA4iOS controller skins. One of the driving forces behind custom skins was to see what ideas people could come up with, so after posting the instructions I mentioned a competition where everyone could submit their designs, and the best ones would be featured in GBA4iOS for download.

Well, that competition has ended, and here are the results (ranked in no particular order.) All the skins you see below are now available for download within GBA4iOS, so if you see one you like, make sure to go download it!

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GBA4iOS Custom Skin Tutorial

One of the coolest new features in GBA4iOS 2.0 is the ability to use custom controller skins. Before, you were limited to only a couple of skins to choose from; now, there is no limit to how many skins you can download and use in the app! This means you can have different skins for different games, and switch between them as you see fit. Or maybe you prefer having a smaller game screen that isn’t covered by the controls in landscape; skins can do this too.

However, the process of actually making skins has been rather confusing, due mostly to the fact that there was no official set of instructions on how to do it. Some have discovered how to replace the images in skins, but this is only scratching the surface of what skins can do. Until now, only a handful of people have known the exact process of how to make skins, but that’s changing today.

Introducing, the official tutorial on how to make GBA4iOS Controller Skins.

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GBA4iOS 2.0: One Month Later

Wow, what an incredible month it has been.

One month ago today, GBA4iOS 2.0 was (finally) released. It was the culmination of over seven months of development and five months of testing, so you can bet I was nervous. Thankfully, the launch went extremely well, with a peak of 10,000 simultaneous downloads, resulting in just over one million downloads in the first twenty-four hours. Now, one month later, the download count has surpassed four million.

Four million. That’s a crazy big number.

Read on →, Current Progress, and Future of GBA4iOS

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been two months since my last blog post. This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped development of GBA4iOS; in fact, quite the opposite. It just means that between developing GBA4iOS and school work, I haven’t had time to sit down and write up a post over the state of 2.0. I’ve posted bits and pieces of progress on Twitter every now and then, but now that development has begun to wrap up, I think it’s time for another post to keep you all updated. Since there’s a lot to talk about since the last post, I’ve divided this one up into multiple parts (as evidenced by the title). If you came here only to learn about release information, you only really need to read the Future of GBA4iOS section, but I’d recommend reading everything since there’s some tidbits I haven’t mentioned before.

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