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Ensures that if a device isn’t secure it can’t access your apps.  It’s Device Trust for Okta.


Game On: Speed Running Game Emulation on iOS

Delta.

Delta.

Game emulators are nothing new to mobile phones. That is unless you have an iPhone. There’s a long history of emulation on Android and an even longer history on Macs, PCs, and other platforms. However, with ‘retro game console emulators’ (Apple’s App Review Guidelines term) now allowed worldwide on iOS, we’re seeing the iOS world speed-running game emulation. It will be a while before iOS emulators catch up to Android and other OSes, but in just over a week, there’s already been a lot of news.

It started with a Commodore 64 emulator.

It started with a Commodore 64 emulator.

The short-lived Bimmy.

The short-lived Bimmy.

  • About the same time that iGBA was being pulled from the App Store by Apple, Bimmy, an NES emulator appeared on the Store for $0.99. It, too, was pulled from the Store within a day or two, but this time, it was the developer who pulled it, not Apple. Tom Salvo, Bimmy’s developer, told Zac Hall of 9to5Mac that he pulled the app “out of fear” and not as the result of pressure from anyone.
Delta works with a variety of classic systems.

Delta works with a variety of classic systems.

  • Then, last Wednesday, Delta, Riley Testut’s game emulator that supports a long list of older Nintendo systems and the Sega Genesis console, was released on the App Store everywhere except the EU, where it is available on AltStore. Within hours, Delta shot to the top of the App Store’s Free Apps Top Chart, where it remains today.
  • In the wake of Delta’s success, other developers have announced that they plan to bring their game emulators to iOS, including the maker of the Sony PSP emulator PPSSPP and the developer of Provenance, which works with multiple systems.
  • The rush to the App Store by emulator developers isn’t universal, however. The creators of Dolphin, which works with Nintendo GameCube and Wii games, announced that it will not be coming to iOS because Apple doesn’t allow the necessary Just-In-Time recompilers to be integrated with game emulators.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Nintendo. The company is notoriously protective of its intellectual property. And, although Nintendo has not sought to restrict the availability of emulators for its oldest systems, it aggressively pursued the makers of Yuzu, a Switch emulator, which resulted in the emulator being forced from the Internet other emulators following suit. So, while emulators for early Nintendo systems have been available elsewhere for years, the sudden mainstream popularity of Delta on the App Store could draw an unwanted reexamination of emulators by the company. My hope is that instead of litigation, the new crop of iOS emulators spurs Nintendo to offer older games on the App Store and via other channels, but history isn’t on the side of my hopes and dreams.


AppStories, Episode 380 – Obsidian Setup Check-In

This week on AppStories, we revisit our Obsidian systems, themes, and favorite plugins.


Sponsored by:

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An Obsidian Check-In


On AppStories+, Federico ponders what notes are, what they should be, and whether he should document more of what he learns on the web.

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Looking Past the Smoke and Mirrors of the MGM Hack [Sponsor]

The September 2023 MGM hack quickly became one of the most notorious ransomware attacks in recent memory. Journalists and cybersecurity experts rushed to report on the broken slot machines, angry hotel guests, and the fateful phishing call to MGM’s help desk that started it all.

And, like a slick magic trick, the public’s attention was drawn in the wrong direction. Now, months later, we’re still missing something critical about the MGM hack.

That’s because, for many of the most important questions about the breach, the popular answers are either incomplete or inaccurate. Those include: who hacked MGM, what tactics they used to breach the system, and how security teams can protect themselves against similar attacks.

Why is that a problem? Because it lets us write off the MGM hack as a one-off story, instead of an example of an emerging style of attack that we’ll certainly be seeing more of. And that leaves companies and security teams unprepared. 

Who hacked MGM?

Plenty of news stories have confidently blamed the MGM attack on either the Scattered Spider or ALPHV hacking group, but the truth is still murky, and likely involves a dangerous team up between different groups, each bringing their own expertise to the table.

Their attacks first use fluent English social engineering skills to get onto networks, where they then deploy sophisticated ransomware that quickly establishes persistence across multiple systems. 

What tactics did they use? 

The dominant narrative has been that “a single phone call hacked MGM.” A phone vishing attack to MGM’s IT help desk is what started the hack, but there’s much more to it than that. The real issue is that this help desk worker was set up to fail by MGM’s weak ID verification protocols, and probably wasn’t doing anything “wrong” when they gave the bad actors access to a super administrator account. 

How can security teams protect themselves? 

Cybersecurity experts have centered most of their advice on user ID verification. But while it’s true that MGM’s help desk needed better ways of verifying employee identity, there’s another factor that should have stopped the hackers in their tracks. 

That’s where you need to focus your attention. In fact, if you just focus your vision, you’ll find you’re already staring at the security story the pros have been missing.

It’s the device you’re reading this on. 

To read more of what we learned when we researched the MGM hack–like how hacker groups get their names, the worrying gaps in MGM’s security, and why device trust is the real core of the story–check out the Kolide Blog.

Our thanks to Kolide for sponsoring MacStories this week.


MacStories Unwind: Cattywampus

This week on MacStories Unwind, I’m a little wired, we explore Southern expressions, share some Legion Go follow-up and have app, hardware, TV, and music picks.



This episode is sponsored by:

Southern Expressions

Picks


MacStories Unwind+

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Federico Updates His Setup with the Lenovo Legion Go and More

The sands beneath Federico’s videogame setup have shifted. As he explained on Unwind last week, Federico has gone all-in with the Lenovo Legion Go, a Windows-based handheld that he’s paired with a ONEXGPU eGPU, a fancy fiber optic Thunderbolt cable, a compact GaN charger, and more. As a result of the changes, Federico has also trimmed a handful of devices from his setup.

For the latest, visit the MacStories Setups page to find the full changelog and all the other gear Federico and I are using.

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How to Load Your Game Boy Games Onto the iPhone to Play in the Delta Emulator

So, you’ve probably seen the (totally justified) hype surrounding the Delta emulator’s launch on the App Store and downloaded it because, why not, it’s free. You may have also recalled that, like a lot of people, you have a box of old Game Boy cartridges stored somewhere that are gathering dust. Or, like me, maybe you spent way too much money on second-hand videogame sites during the COVID lockdown. Regardless of your Game Boy cartridge origin story, today I’m going to show you a simple way to breathe new life into those games by bringing them, along with your save files, to your iPhone.

The GB Operator. Source: Epilogue.

The GB Operator. Source: Epilogue.

The easiest way I’ve found to pull the game files from a Game Boy, Game Boy Color, or Game Boy Advance cartridge is with a little USB-C accessory called the GB Operator by Epilogue, or as I like to call it the Game Boy Toaster. That’s because the device looks like a top-loading transparent toaster that takes game cartridges instead of bread. If you have a big collection of game cartridges, the GB Operator is a great investment at $50 because it allows you to both play and back up your games using a Mac.

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Emulators Will Change the App Store Forever

Delta for iOS.

Delta for iOS.

Writing at his personal blog, Brendon Bigley explains why the Delta emulator launching on the App Store is a big deal for retrogaming fans who also love native iOS apps:

AltStore for me (and many) was just a way to get access to Delta, which is the best emulator on iOS by a pretty shocking margin. While there are admittedly more feature-rich apps like RetroArch out there, no other app feels made for iPhone in the way Delta does. With a slick iOS-friendly user interface, custom themes and designs to reskin your experience, and the ability to grab game files from iCloud, Delta always represented what’s possible what a talented app developer could do if the App Store was even slightly more open. It’s in this possibility space where I likely never switch to Android again.

I posted this on Threads and Mastodon, but I was able to start playing old save files from my own copies of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Pokémon Ruby in 30 seconds thanks to Delta.

Years ago, one of my (many) lockdown projects involved ripping my own Game Boy Advance game collection using a GB Operator. I did that and saved all my games and associated save files in iCloud Drive, thinking they’d be useful someday. Today, because Delta is a great iOS citizen that integrates with the Files picker, I just had to select multiple .gba files in iCloud Drive to add them to Delta. Then, since Delta also supports context menus, I long-pressed each game to import my own save files, previously ripped by the GB Operator. And that’s how I can now continue playing games from 20 years ago…on my iPhone. And those are just two aspects of the all-encompassing Delta experience, which includes Dropbox sync, controller support, haptic feedback, and lots more.

Brendon also wraps up the story with a question I’m pondering myself:

How does Nintendo react to the news that despite their desire to fight game preservation at all costs, people are nonetheless still enjoying the very games that built their business in the first place?

I’ll never get over the fact that Nintendo turned the glorious Virtual Console into a subscription service that is randomly updated and not available on mobile devices at all. I’m curious to see if Nintendo will have any sort of response to emulators on iOS; personally, I know that Delta is going to be my new default for all Game Boy/DS emulation needs going forward.

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Magic Rays of Light: Argylle and TV Tracking with Jonathan Reed

This week on Magic Rays of Light, Devon is joined by MacStories Community Manager Jonathan Reed to highlight Argylle, discuss Jonathan’s approach to tracking TV and films, and look ahead to an exciting summer of Apple Originals.



Show Notes


Send us a voice message all week via iMessage or email to magic@macstories.net.

Sigmund Judge | Follow Sigmund on X, Mastodon, or Threads

Devon Dundee | Follow Devon on Mastodon or Threads

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The Delta Videogame Emulator Launches on the App Store

Delta, the videogame emulator for a long list of Nintendo systems, is now available worldwide. In the US and many other countries, you’ll find it in Apple’s App Store, while in the EU, it is part of the AltStore alternative marketplace.

I’ve been using Delta for years. The app was available using a clever system that took advantage of an Apple Mail plugin and developer account to allow it to be side-loaded onto iPhones. It wasn’t the most convenient way to use the app, but it worked, and legions of classic videogame aficionados flocked to it for its excellent performance and design.

Today, however, anyone can download Delta from the App Store for free, load their game files, and play their favorite NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, SNES, N64, and Nintendo DS games on the iPhone. Delta has been in development for years, so the experience of playing your old games on it is superb, incorporating native features like haptic feedback and quality-of-life enhancements like the ability to save a game’s state, fast forward, and use cheat codes. Delta also supports controller skins, local multiplayer, and syncing of save state, save data, and more.

Delta is the Nintendo emulation standard bearer on iOS. I expect we’ll see other emulators that work with the same games, as we did briefly last week, but Delta is going to be a tough app to beat.