(Update: It’s gone again.)
For a few glorious hours last October, iPhone and iPad owners could turn their devices into fully-functioning DOS emulators with iDOS, a $1 app. It was, of course, too good to be true, and Apple quickly removed the program.
Surprisingly, iDOS is back in the App Store, possibly for good, and now it’s free. The only major concession is the removal of file transfers through iTunes, which allowed users to load and install pretty much anything — even Windows 3.0.
But as TouchArcade points out, you can work around this roadblock by downloading iPhone Explorer on your PC and dropping files into the “/Apps/iDOS/documents” directory, which becomes the C: drive in iDOS. Hooray nostalgia!
If you managed to snag the old iDOS, there are a couple reasons to consider upgrading, even with direct file transfers removed. The new version adds a self-contained DOS game storefront, much like the download store in Manomio’s Commodore 64 app, along with a quick launcher that avoids the DOS prompt entirely. It includes the shareware versions of Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein, plus four other games. Everything’s free for now, but I wonder if developer FastIntelligence will try to license and sell some classic games through the store.
Even better, iDOS now has a virtual joystick and keypad, and supports Bluetooth keyboards.
I hope the discovery of iPhone Explorer doesn’t change Apple’s mind on letting iDOS exist. We’ll know for sure if the next “iPad is” commercial includes a snapshot of the command prompt.