(Update: Word got around, I guess. iDOS is now gone from the App Store. Original post continues below.)
Either I’m dreaming, someone in Cupertino messed up, or Apple has seriously relaxed the rules of what flies in the iOS App Store. For $1, you can now download iDOS, a DOS emulator for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.
Touch Arcade broke the news earlier today, and I initially figured it was a fluke, like the accidental approval of a Nintendo emulator last year. But for now, the app is still available, and I just downloaded it directly on my iPhone and from within iTunes. iDos includes two games, Ms. Pac-Man and Dig Dug, plus its own virtual keyboard and keypad instead of the stock iOS inputs. I tried Dig Dug on an iPhone 3GS, and it’s a little slow, but I’m hoping for better results when I try it on the iPad later today.
Already, people are gorging on classic PC nostalgia by loading their own applications (active forum threads on what works here and here). Some of the classic games confirmed to work are Duke Nukem, Commander Keen 4, Pinball Fantasies and Space Quest. But the crowning achievement is the installation of Windows 3.0, complete with Solitaire. Touch Arcade has the screenshots to prove it.
This is amazing stuff, and it makes me wonder where Apple will draw the line and/or how long the party will last. The company doesn’t have a strict policy against emulators — Commodore 64, Intellivision and ZX Spectrum are allowed — but launching executable code from within an application always seemed like a big no-no. That’s why NS Basic was never released in the App Store. Either iDOS does things in a way that satisfies Apple’s censors, or the app is just going unnoticed.
In any case, if you’re an old-school computer junkie, I’d get the app right now just to be safe. But I’m really hoping this is a new leaf turned for Apple, and that we can expect more emulators for iOS in the future.