Before looking for the best iOS emulator for PC, it is important to gain an understanding of how emulators are beneficial. Emulators are some of the most unique pieces of software on the market. Whether you are an avid gamer, a developer, or you are simply interested in trying out an operating system prior to purchase, emulators have you covered. Mobile emulators are those which allow you to use operating systems that are usually available on handheld devices such as cell phones, from the comfort of your computer screen.
An iOS emulator allows you to experience Apple’s highly sought-after operating system without owning one of their handheld devices. Whether you’d just like to see what an iOS environment has to offer, or you need a testing ground for your new application, an emulator may be the perfect piece of software for your needs. For instance, transferring photos can be easier with emulators. You should note, however, that most emulators have the features that only developers can operate. Though casual users can make use of several of them, the technical setup required in some cases isn’t worth the payoff.
Before getting into the emulators, please note that while it is not uncommon to find an emulator for other platforms, you are much more likely to find an optimal iOS emulator for Windows PC, or you may find one for Mac. This means that the emulators in this list predominantly have the best interests of one of or both platforms. Please enjoy the below reviews of the eight best iOS emulators for PC that currently exist.
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Smartface – iOS Emulator for PC
The first emulator in this list is the definition of versatile. The Smartface emulator, like many, supports devices such as Windows PC and Mac. However, it possibly the only on-device iOS emulator that exists. This means that not only does it work on the desktop platforms mentioned, but it also functions on devices such as iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and Android tablets. This functionality extends your testing past the virtual interface provided by PC applications, and it allows you to use your handheld devices as your testing space. You can activate this emulator from the PC or Mac application. Once the built-in Run on Device option is selected, a QR code is then used to run whatever application you wish on the mobile device.
Based on the tools from Smartface and the way it operates, this app has the best interest of power users and developers. It boasts features such as cross-platform testing, and resolution adaptation, which can make it an iPad or an iPhone emulator if needed. Note that you need to purchase this software, and you need to request a quote for pricing based on your specific needs. Smartface does, however, provide a free version for evaluation and you can access this and/or request a quote here.
Xamarin TestFlight – iOS Emulator for Mac
Moving on to the next emulator. We have Xamarin TestFlight as the official Apple beta tester for apps. It is an iOS emulator for Mac that is intended for developers who need to test their apps prior to release. Currently, TestFlight only supports applications developed for iOS 8.0 and above. You can only access it via iTunes Connect (an Apple service that allows digital content creators to upload, review, and manage their content).
Once you are ready to test your app, you must first create an iTunes Connect record, after which you may archive and publish your application to the service. At this point, you must then add any required metadata. Once the data entered conforms to Apple’s requirements, you may then perform your beta testing.
Of course, the description above indicates that the setup for using this iOS emulator is quite comprehensive. However, it supports external beta testing for up to 1000 users, which is great for getting different perspectives on your app.
There is no worry about an excessive price point here as TestFlight is a free iOS emulator. If you are interested in TestFlight, you may obtain it from the Apple iTunes store.
AIR iPhone – iOS Emulator for PC
The next emulator on the list is intended for those who have specific interests in casual use of an iPhone emulator for PC. While the previous entries focus on developers, the AIR iPhone focuses on those that simply want to get a feel for the iPhone interface, or those who have interests in gaming on a virtual iOS platform. This is not to say that the virtual phone cannot be used for application testing. The interface generated is a replica of an actual iPhone. In other words, it is a perfect place to see what your apps may look like. However, that is not necessarily the intended purpose.
Predominantly, a lot of Apple iPhone users consider using this emulator. While the aesthetic of the interface successfully translates onto this iPhone emulator, a couple of the built-in applications do not run in the same crisp manner they do on an actual iPhone. The hardware replication is not yet perfect; however, the software is not only free but constantly updated. At the time of writing, the available download is AIR iPhone version 3.03. You may download a copy of this iOS emulator here.
Appetize.io – iOS Emulator for PC and Mac
The next emulator in the list is arguably the most user-friendly iOS emulator for PC. To get an idea of just how simple it is to get started, you can jump onto the official website, and there is an iPhone emulator interface waiting. You may interact with this interface on the fly with no setup required if you simply want to experience the interface that Apple has to offer.
The platform is not only for casual users, however, as it pleases developers with a great place to test their applications. They can start the operation by following a couple of simple steps. The process boils down to upload your app to the website. Then moving on to accessing it from the iPhone interface provided in the browser. This is a streaming process and the limits imposed on concurrent users and streaming time depend on the pricing plan you choose.
Since the application is available directly from a browser, you can easily access it from any PC or Mac that has at least one installed. You may use the app in its free trial form, or you may subscribe to one of the paid plans. The free trial allows for a single user at a time, and it grants 100 minutes of streaming monthly. The various paid versions offer different amounts of concurrent users, streaming time, and other features. If you are interested, you may view all the pricing tiers and their associated benefits here.
The next tool iOS emulator on the list is iPadian. This is a popular tool for those who are specifically looking to emulate the iOS interface with the dimensions of an iPad. It is important to note that this emulator does not have the best interest of developers. In short, it does not facilitate the uploading of custom applications for testing.
However, it does allow downloading certain apps. These are not official Apple iTunes Store apps, but they have compatibility with the iPadian emulator. The library of these apps provides continuous updates. The quality behind the design of iPadian shows as lag is nearly non-existent on the platform. The download and install process is simple and the UI is very user-friendly. It is also conveniently available to users of both Windows and Mac operating systems.
There is no free access to this emulator, and downloading it requires a $20 payment, which must be completed via PayPal. If you are interested in iPadian, you may review and purchase it here.
Electric Mobile Studio – iOS Emulator for PC
The next emulator is Electric Mobile Studio. This is another iOS emulator for PC that is intended for developers. It boasts a plethora of features that help to enrich the development process. The Visual Studio integration and the integrated WebKit debugging tools are two of the main attractions to developers.
The Visual Studio integration provides operability from the interface of Visual Studio 2012, 2013, and 2015. Once Electric Mobile Studio detects that you have any of these programs installed, it adds additional options to the testing drop down. These options allow for direct testing using iPad or iPhone simulators.
If you have experience with the backend of Chrome, then the integrated WebKit tool is for you. It allows you to step into the code that runs different aspects of your app so you can do debugging on a modular level.
Electric Mobile Studio allows you to not only open two instances of the same platform on different machines. However, it also allows you to emulate multiple devices at the same time. The software is available for Windows users in the form of a 7-day free trial, or as a $39.99 purchase for the full version. If you are interested in getting started with the program, you may download the trial or make a purchase here.
Ripple – iOS Emulator for Mac
The next emulator here is Ripple. You can access it in a different way from the previous entries on this list. While Ripple technically utilizes browser, you cannot access it via a URL. As a Chrome extension, it is accessible on platforms such as Mac and Windows that have support for Google Chrome.
The storage requirements are not very heavy as it only requires 4.5 MB for addition to your browser. With the HTML5 protocol, it provides tools for both application development and testing. The target audience is those who do development using tools such as WebWorks and PhoneGap in their craft. Features offered in the Ripple iOS emulator include:
- Multiple concurrent virtual device emulation
- Automated testing
- Screen size variation and adaptability
One of the best things about Ripple is its support for a wide range of applications of various ages. The reason for this is, however, also a downside as Ripple has not received an update since March of 2013. Work on Ripple seems to have ceased. One cannot help thinking if it is only a matter of time before Ripple is unable to adequately support newer iOS systems.
Ripple is available for free and since it is a browser extension, it does not warrant an extensive setup process. If you are interested in Ripple, you may add the extension here using the Chrome browser.
Remoted iOS Simulator – iOS Emulator for PC
The final entry on this list is the Remoted iOS Simulator. This iOS emulator for PC is aimed at developers that need a comprehensive platform for testing. While it is excellent at fulfilling its designated role, the setup process has a few key requirements. To operate this, you need the following:
- A machine running Microsoft Windows
- Visual Studio 2017 or 2019
- A Mac build host (a network connected computer running a Mac OSX operating system, that has Apple build tools and Xamarin.iOS installed)
Once this is all set up and connected, however, you will realize the power at your fingertips. You can make use of the wide range of tools available in the Visual Studio IDE. You can look at it alongside the iOS simulation window. Various functions of actual iOS devices can translate to other operating systems. These functions feature rotation, shakes, location services, the screenshot feature, and the lock screen.
This iOS emulator can accommodate touch physics. It also responds to touches on modern-day Windows machines that have touch screen functionality. Once you have a copy of Visual Studio 2017 or 2019, you will get to install the Remoted iOS Simulator along with Xamarin. For an overview of the setup, you may view the documentation here.
The idea of the best iOS emulator for PC depends on what you need in an emulator and what makes you comfortable. Do you prefer something you can access from your browser? Do you prepare to pay for an emulator, or are you just looking for something to try out for free? Are you a developer? If so, what kind of tools do you require?
Whatever your requirements are, you are sure to find something in the list presented above.