GBA4iOS 2.0 ETA: Less Than 2 Weeks!

Oh, I bet you readers longed for those words in a title. It’s been something scary for the past few months to write due to the last major ETA given back in October. Trust me when I say the app was far from done back in October, and trust me again when I say the app is almost out now. 

Less than 2 weeks until you all get to play GBA4iOS 2.0! 

At least that’s what the developer hopes and is aiming for. That is all we know for now, no specific release date just yet. I really believe this is the one, though, I honestly do. 

In case you need proof: 

The latest GM (Gold Master) Beta hit our inboxes early Monday morning. With it, we got some amazing news from Riley - the ETA was a part of it (at the very end) but it wasn’t the only big thing in there (although I guess it was the biggest).

Note: although GM is usually the last given beta, Riley has informed us that this will not be the “final” one. He has some debug settings in place that need to be removed before releasing it to the public, but given how close we are to the release date, you, the public, might as well consider it the last major one. 

The email began with Riley telling us how on July 18, 2013 development of what would be GBA4iOS 2.0 had begun and how 7 months later, he could finally sigh with relief and say, “I’m done.” The app is now complete. Everything that needed to be implemented, every feature that needed testing, all the bugs that needed squashing - it all lead to this big moment and I’m sure Riley is more excited than any one of us are. 

The first surprise from the email wasn’t the ETA but another last-minute feature that has to do with distribution. While breaking his head with the distribution method, Riley managed, somehow, something we never thought possible: he came across a workaround that would essentially allow him to continue to update the app even after Apple inevitably shuts it down. This is amazing news due to the fact that it actually plays a role in releasing the app this early to you all, and many more features can be added down the road (not to mention he can squish any bugs we might have missed). This could potentially mean a multiplayer support (teased by Riley to be coming in later versions of the app) could arrive sooner than expected - although this is not confirmed.

This latest, and probably last feature, we beta testers will be getting and testing is something simple called “Software Update.” We can update within the app whenever the developer pushes a patch or has created a new feature. Like he said in the email: convenient

Aside from this major feature, there were a couple of things added about the latest GM beta. And if you haven’t stopped reading this by now because you went to text or snapchat your friends that GBA4iOS 2.0 will be out and you were the first to find out before them, then here’s the rundown:

For all their dedicated months of help, troubleshooting and testing, the beta testers get their names added to the app! (Guess who’s first!)

Bug fixes from the last beta:

• Extra protection to prevent Game Already Exists errors.
• Presents warning about Date & Time setting on initial launch
• Minor Event Distribution Event UI tweaks
• Changing Frameskip while playing a game works as intended now
• Saving data is much quicker
• Fixed graphical freeze when a save for the currently playing game was updated on another device
• Handles errors when downloading skins and events
• Misc. bug fixes

Besides GBA4iOS 2.0, I also have some great news from the team that will bring you GBA4iOSkins:

We might have less time than anticipated and our schedules have been torn in half, but we are hopeful (and overwhelmed) that we can get everything together and have a simultaneous release along with 2.0 so that you can play your favorite games with some of our skins!

Our brand new site will be out in a very short time so that you can play around with our skin switcher feature and see which skins you should get when 2.0 arrives. 

- The Start3rs

Readers, if you’re even still reading, I really hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot by saying this but this is it. We are close, closer than we’ve ever been. In less than two weeks, this whole journey comes to an end, and a new one begins - for all of you! I appreciate the love and support this place has received over the last few months and I want to invite you to my last “Goodbye” Beta Blog post which I’ll tweet about after 2.0 is out. Thank you again.

In less than 24 hours, the anticipated Game Boy Advance emulator you all have been waiting for months will finally be released. You will get to play classic GBA games like Super Mario Advance, Pokemon Emerald, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and, let’s not forget, classic Game Boy Color games as well! You will also be able to customize your gameplay experience with special controller skins from GBA4iOSkins.com. Tomorrow, around this time, you will already be playing and realizing that the long wait was definitely worth it. You’ll see.

Nearly 10 months after the original 2.0 version was released, GBA4iOS 2.1 is finally out as a software update to your existing copy. This version includes the much anticipated multiplayer feature.

You might not find this very surprising or new since the source code has been available for quite some time, and we even hosted an open beta a few weeks ago but as far as official things go, this is what you’ve been waiting for. 

Try the all new Multiplayer feature (which isn’t quite as fast as you would imagine due to technical limitations but still does the job) by opening your app and tapping the ‘update’ button now.

Other notable features include:

  • full support for all the new iPhone 6 screen sizes
  • new controller skins (that adapt to the new screen sizes)
  • new GBC palettes to enhance your nostalgic play of the classics
  • ability to customize the web browser with any URL you wish. 

Note: this version is not yet on Cydia (but it will be soon) and is not supported on iOS 8.1 devices and up due to the fact it still relies on the 'date trick’ method. If jailbreaking isn’t your thing, know that iEmulators are already working on fixing this with a longer-term solution. Stay tuned

The feature-complete beta is here!

Announced about a month ago, the feature-complete beta is finally in the hands of beta testers of GBA4iOS 2.0. It is one giant step closer to reaching the end phase of this whole journey.

This one took a lot longer than previous ones, and packs every single feature Riley wanted to implement. We know that this latest beta might as well be the precursor to the final beta or “GM,” although Riley cannot confirm at this time - we all know anything can happen during development.

Quick Recap!

Riley tweeted a series of tweets yesterday informing us the long-awaited feature-complete beta was coming that night. Apparently, my guess on the last blog post was correct and Riley did in fact release the final beta early morning at about 5AM CST.

What It Brings

This beta’s email message from Riley was one of the biggest we have seen in a long time. It tells us about all the latest features, the bug fixes and encouragement to report every single bug we find. Here’s a summary of everything.

The Email

Riley starts the email by telling us the feature-complete beta of GBA4iOS 2.0 is finally ready for download. He explains that this one will, from now on, cover mostly bug-fixes so we should report any little critter we see immediately using the given GitHub method.

After we have reported all the bugs we can find, Riley goes on to say - if we don’t have any major bugs (which means a new beta will follow) -  that a GM version will be released after (again, only if no major bugs are found). If you aren’t familiar with how Apple beta tests new versions iOS, GM might seem like just two letters with no meaning - let me help you understand.

GM stands for Gold Master. It is the final stage of the software release life cycle. This is what will essentially be mass-duplicated and released to you when the app is out. 

In the email Riley gives a quick mention about including all of the beta testers names in the credit section of GBA4iOS, then gets down to the interesting stuff: new features!

The New Features

  • Event Distribution
    A huge update that we have been looking forward to all beta. I explained a little about what exactly this feature will do in this post, but basically all English Pokemon games will now have the ability to download events (which Riley will set up from time to time). We already have sample event made where we must find a Wurmple to trade for a Shiny Geodude with Riley (yes, Riley is in the game).

  • Wario Ware Twisted Support
    We talked about this last month. Wario Ware Twisted is a game that requires motion sensors to work. Riley actually managed to use the iPhone and iPad’s own accelerometer and gyroscope to make it work just like on the GBA version - it’s quite amazing and you should try it when you get the app!

  • External Audio Feature
    Definitely a favorite of mine. In the past, one could listen to their own music but only by being forced to listen to the game music as well on most ROMs. With this new feature you can now disable the game audio and listen in bliss to your preferred music any time you want while playing any game you like.

  • iPad Landscape GBC Skins
    The GBC (GameBoy Color) skins that had always been missing playability have finally been mapped! (side note: I can finally begin building iPad GBC skins for GBA4iOSkins)

  • Debug Setting for Controller Skins
    You probably don’t have to worry about this new feature, but it is one I am particularly looking forward to using greatly. This is because as a controller skin creator, this will help me debug the skins when mapping! Very useful, and if you are a skin developer yourself, let me know if you need help.

    *ignore the select and start being off (I’ve been testing)

  • Landscape Gameplay on iPad Graphics Improved
    I don’t even think it’s just the iPad that improved in graphics. Everything did slightly! I discussed in the blog before about how Riley wanted to implement some new filter techniques to improve the quality and sharpness of games - and apparently it works!

    These aren’t the exact images, but you can definitely see the difference.

  • ROM-name Auto-fill
    Very convenient and exactly what it sounds. When you download a ROM, it will auto-fill the name given on the site - no more of that typing down the whole name again like we did for the past few months. 

  • Updated Splash Screens
    Something that always bugged me, apparently one of Riley’s designers mixed up the splash screens and were always different from iPhone and iPad (I’m looking at you Paul :P)

Aside from features, we also got a little section for all past bugs we reported and if they’ve been fixed!

Bug Fixes

  • Buttload of crashes (Riley’s words)
  • Multiple Downloads fail
  • Redundant Dropbox syncs
  • Cheats marked as enabled even though they aren’t
  • Saves and overriding Dropbox
  • Incorrectly mapped skins
  • Resuming on iPad by tapping on right side
  • Keyboards not dismissing
  • Not uploading .rtc files along with .sav files for GBC clock games
  • Double-height status bar causing weird layout issues
  • Menus and incorrect animation curves

That’s it for now! Thanks for reading and being so patient with all of us working on this, you won’t even remember all the waiting once you get your hands on it when it is released!

Apple Giveth, And Apple Taketh Away

GBA4iOS 2.1, one of the most anticipated updates yet thanks to the introduction of wireless linking (multiplayer) support, finally came out a couple of days ago in open beta form. Thanks to our long-time friendship with developer Riley TestutiEmulators.com (which I co-founded) was offered the chance to be the first stepping stone in its eventual official release by allowing anyone to download the beta update without any developer experience required.

A week before, we had been contacted by Riley and offered this exclusive chance to host and get this stable-enough beta out to the masses. We, of course, agreed enthusiastically. The whole thing - by which I mean the actual download page - took us long hours to set up and was actually made on the same day of release because, believe it or not, Riley had just updated the source code with all the new updates the night before at around 3:33 A.M.

In a frenzy, my teammates and I spent that whole day working on the distribution/hosting, a video showcasing the update, a quick logo for the occassion, new controller skins and more. We eventually released everything at about 6:30 P.M. to everyone’s surprise.

Although we had a few issues with a couple of device installations at first, we managed to successfully fix that through another update. GBA4iOS 2.1 was downloaded at lightning speed, reaching as far as 200,000 downloads in 3 days.

Unfortunately, on November 17, Apple struck once more and revoked its distribution certificate which had helped a lot of iOS 8.1 users download the update since they no longer have access to the once convenient ‘date trick’ method of installation. 

It came to no one’s surprise that Apple would strike once again like they had back in February when Riley released the first version of 2.0 - actually, we kind of expected it and even made bets on the inside as to when it would happen. What did surprise us was how long it took in comparison to the first release, but there was no question that it wouldn’t happen to begin with.

We don’t blame Apple at all for their actions; they were definitely within their rights to shut it down. With recent discoveries like the WireLurker malware abusing the same method we’re using to distribute, it was only natural for them to take necessary precautions. We feel no grudge towards them and you shouldn’t either; they’re doing what’s best for everyone using their technology.

Why release GBA4iOS 2.1 at all knowing it’ll get shut down?

Primarily, the reason we released 2.1 the way we did was because of you all! We know a lot of you have updated to the latest (and definitely more secure) iOS 8.1 update, so we didn’t want to leave you behind.

We could easily have gone with the 'date trick’ required route (like Riley intends to do with the official release) but we decided to risk it for you all to have a few days of joy playing some nostalgic games with all the new features. 

Secondly, it was also an experiment for us. We wanted to find out just how far iEmulators has grown since our re-launch a couple of months back. It also helped us find out how strong this distribution method we’re using is since it’s a little unconventional and not the typical kind - it definitely helped us realize that our focus should shift back towards that long-term solution we discussed about back on the iEmulators.com page which, speaking of, we have made some progress on and we will reveal more info as it becomes available.

To conclude, we don’t currently have plans to bring back GBA4iOS 2.1 back without the date trick - not while we’re still in the spotlight and a target. This will be no different than when Riley releases it officially, anyway.

All you users on iOS 8.1, 8.1.1 and the upcoming 8.2, we want to let you know we haven’t forgotten about you. Although 8.0.2 and below is pretty much the best way to play emulators on our site currently, we can’t stay stuck in the past for too long either. Like the frequent iOS updates coming, we have to try and move alongside them, we must find new solutions and methods to continue to protect those little fun pastimes on our phones that emulators allow us to enjoy.

Note: the revocation of GBA4iOS 2.1 also took down a lot of our other emulators we had hosted before using the no date trick method. Don’t worry, they’ll be back as soon as we figure some things out! In the mean time, for users on 8.0.2 and below, date trick is still in effect!

Don’t forget to follow @mithical and @iEmulators for up-to-date news on all of our future plans and updates.