GBA4iOS 2.1

GBA4iOS developer, Riley Testut, has posted an enlightening entry on his personal blog about the history of GBA4iOS. It delves into its humble beginnings up to its current status as a lame duck emulator waiting to be largely phased out post iOS 8.1.

Testut’s post is a fascinating read that explains not only the history of the uber-popular GameBoy Advanced emulator, but it also sheds some much-needed light on how the emulator was ever able to work on non-jailbroken devices in the first place. I highly recommend reading it.

How did GBA4iOS—a jailbreak emulator—get to work on non-jailbroken devices? Testut explains (emphasis mine):

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.

On the discovery of the “date-trick”:

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that people who want to play Game Boy games on their phones will try almost anything to accomplish this goal. And sure enough, one crazy enough idea turned out to work, and that trick is why I’m writing this blog post today. Colloquially referred to as the “Date Trick”, it was discovered that by setting the date of the device back a day, certain security checks in launching GBA4iOS would fail, and allow it to be installed. It seemed like such a crazy idea, but it worked, and that’s all that mattered.

On the status of GBA4iOS, and any other apps that require the date trick to work post iOS 8.1:

As of iOS 8.1, you will no longer be able to download GBA4iOS, or any other apps which require the Date Trick to be installed. Any attempts to will result in the app downloading, but failing to install due to iOS recognizing the invalid certificate. Similarly, and perhaps most unfortunately, already installed apps that require the Date Trick to work will no longer open even if you do set the date back. If you are running iOS 8.1, you will be unable to install or play GBA4iOS.

I won’t spoil all of the goodies. It’s a really good read, and helps one to understand how a jailbreak app like GBA4iOS ever saw the light of day on “legitimate” iPhones and iPads to begin with.

Despite how sad it is to be without GBA4iOS and other emulators, there’s a somewhat bigger issue at hand. The axing of the date trick, more ominously, kills the method that was used by the Pangu jailbreak team. As you all know, the latest Pangu jailbreak incorporated the date-trick in order to run. Now that Apple has eliminated the ability to do this in iOS 8.1+, the team behind Pangu will have to come up with another way to get their code to run on iOS 8. Can they do it? It remains to be seen.

What are your thoughts on Apple’s abolishment of the date-trick on iOS 8.1. Will you stick to iOS 8.0.x as a result? Share your thoughts down below in the comments.

  • Chinch07

    Purchase a provisioning profile and sign the app yourself.

    • Eni

      It’s not only about that app, but it kills jailbreak (the easiest method at least) etc.

      • lemonhead

        nope this only kills the “Failbreak” as pangu was actually a failbreak not a jailbreak as you were required to have it signed by enterprise licence…

        this was also the reason why other jailbreak devs knocked the pangu so much!

      • Eni

        You are right about that, I never liked pangu, it was so glitchy for me at least

      • Platy

        The jailbreak was dead long before 8.1 and the evaders said they wouldn’t use this date trick anyway. It isn’t a massive loss to the jailbreak community.

  • Rupinder S

    I <3 Jeff

  • TwinSon

    Another significant app that get’s nixed by 8.1? Movie Box.

    • Jon20

      What?!!! Why?!! That’s an awesome app.

      • TwinSon

        The Date Trick is required to install it on non-jailbroken devices. Have to roll the date back to anything before September 16th, 2014. I have it on my 6+ now and I can’t even open it successfully without rolling the date back first.

      • Jeremy

        Really? On my 5s it works perfectly and I don’t have to set my date back before opening it up first.

      • TwinSon

        Yea I don’t know what the issue is with mine, but I’ve had to delete it more than once. If I cold start the app I have to roll the date back first.

      • Manuel Molina

        I actually didn’t know this until I read your comment. Thanks a lot. I was missing that app when I gave my 5S to my girl.

    • Fevostone

      Yes I was thinking the same so if we have it already and we update to ios 8.1 does it mean it will stop working.

      • TwinSon

        I hope not but we will see I suppose.

      • Fevostone

        Most probably will not work put I have show box on my nexus 5 anyway.

      • TwinSon

        80% of my TV viewership comes from streaming Movie Box. Only show I watch on an actual TV is The Walking Dead.

      • Fevostone

        Snap I’m using it right now LOL

      • TwinSon

        I use it at work Daily. Ray Donovan, The Strain, Black Sails, Game of Thrones, Power are all shows I have been able to watch and keep up with because of Movie Box.

      • Fevostone

        Power I love that can’t wait for season 2

      • Rowan09

        That’s an amazing show

      • Fevostone

        I think its going to be a lot better in season 2.

      • Rowan09

        I know. When is it coming back?

      • Fevostone

        Not sure mate

      • Evade3rs

        I updated to 8.1 beta 2 and I tried and it didn’t work!

      • Fevostone

        It you already have it installed tho..?

      • Evade3rs

        Yes I had it installed already.

      • Fevostone

        Okay mate cheers

    • Tony Trenkle Jr.

      I know!!! I shouldnt have updated..:( gotta wait for a jailbreak I guess.

    • BoardDWorld

      Is it worth updating? Doe it kill the pile of bugs? Screen rotation getting stuck & apps crashing etc.

      • TwinSon

        Apple Pay should be on 8.1 so if you have a 6 or 6+, you really don’t have a choice.

      • BoardDWorld

        I’m on 4S

      • TwinSon

        Oh, well then screw it and stay the course. I wouldn’t bother updating if I had a 4S either.

  • Waleed

    just for some information saying all this, i was on iOS 8.1 Beta 1 ! i couldnt install vshare (pirated apps app)! it could only be installed by changing the date back, (it was fine on iOS 8.0.2) so after some days the Vshare developer did something and updated the vshare, and now again i could again insta the vshare app simply from safari by changing the date back! it didn’t crash or something! works perfect!
    so actually the so called “Date Trick” is Not Killed 😉

  • Kylan WIlson

    safe to say movie box is done too then correct

    • I found tht won’t even work on 8.0.2. I got it installed but as soon as I corrected the date, it would no longer launch 🙁

  • WhizZz

    Or we just wait until someone combine GBA4iOS with a Tic-Tac-Toe game or a calculator and put it on the AppStore 😀

  • DateGate.

    • Yash Gorana

      The best part about it is that…it rhymes. xD

  • Beta382

    Distributing expired or rejected enterprise certs is legally grey at best anyways, which is why teams like evasi0n never used them in the first place. If the Pangu team is to create an iOS 8.* jailbreak, they’ll have to do what the evasi0n team before them did: find a way to install an app without it having been signed.

    Musclenerd’s thoughts on the Pangu enterprise cert:


    >The use of the (expired) enterprise certificate is the most unique part of Pangu JB (but it’s something we avoid for legal reasons)

  • Guest

    so if i have below 8.1 will it work?

  • Platy

    I don’t think this has any implications for an ios 8 jailbreak.

    Jailbreakers should be used to exploits being patch after they have been used, this should be no different.

    More to the point, the evaders (in particular musclenerd) said that they would never use the date trick in their jailbreaks for legal reasons.

    IMO I welcome the fix, it doesn’t have any implications on future jailbreaks and it stops those ad ridden emulators from working. They mostly just copied the open-sourced code from (ad) free emulators (available on cydia) and added ads to them so they could earn money of the masses (non- jailbreak users). Yes gba4ios does not fall into that category but the majority did.

  • StarShootex

    So can I not install the emulators? Or can I not USE the emulators?
    What if I already have them installed on iOS 8.0.2? Will they continue to run when I’m on iOS 8.1? Or is the whole thing just dead?

    • Andy

      If you installed them on iOS 8.0.2, they will work, but if you update to 8.1, they will stop working. Any apps that use the date trick will not work. The only option to use them on iOS 8.1 or higher is to wait for a jailbreak to be released.

      • Arjan Vlek

        Or buy a provision profile and sign the emulator with that profile to run it. Will work forever as your own profile will not be revoked so you don’t have to set the time back

      • anis

        What is this provision profile and from where i can buy it?

      • Arjan Vlek

        Look at some udid registration site, they’ll have it there but since it is mainly used for piracy I can’t give you a link.

  • xXGodpwnerXx

    Stick to iOS 8.0.2

    • Ian Leon

      8.1 is soo stable, not worth it. I’m sure there will be a better way

  • Troy

    I have my iPad on iOS 8.1 beta 2 and movie box still works

  • Wow, such insane greed, much dictatorship, very herd master, so anti-freedom, only official iDevices can’t enjoy the freedom of emulators without any worries…

    • Hyr3m

      I’m still surprised that piracy-shy iDB still posted about this emulator thing; Basically encouraging people to not pay for protected content that belongs to Nintendo when they’re all butthurt about pirated repos…
      Doge ftw tho.

      • Emulators aren’t illegal though, they’re just a gateway, like jailbreak.

      • Hyr3m

        Except you can do legal stuff with a jailbreak.. Purchase tweaks legally, use free ones etc… On an emulator you can’t do anything at all except use pirated games.

  • Eric Sheetz

    Someone needs to find another way around this. I can’t live without my emulators and such. I refuse to update until someone finds another loophole.

  • Yesenia Razo

    Can someone help me jailbreak my iphone 4s running ios 8?

  • someone

    please someone fix the problem

  • James G

    Now that I’m on iOS 8.1 I can report that the SNES emulator actually still loads for me. Just loaded up Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past and played a bit. I had the SiOS installed on 8.0.2.

    • James G

      Oh man..I have been trying all afternoon to do a screen recording of this on 8.1. I finally rebooted my phone to get the QuickTime screen recording trick to work and now the app won’t load. Crap! Must have just worked after the initial 8.1 install but after a clean reboot, it will no longer launch. Dammit!

  • Kyle Wolf

    Screw it! I just upgraded, and now I’m downloading a restore ios to go back a version. Might as well go back to 7 then.

  • Clyde Manipol

    Somehow I got to install Provenance and iSSB WITHOUT date trick