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Is it possible to test iPhone applications which you downloaded from iTunes Store in the iOS Simulator?

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migrated from Feb 6 '11 at 2:47

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Afraid not. The simulator runs on x86 architecture and the iPhone apps are published to run on ARM.

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Why is this being voted up? If the answer as stated were really that simple, then nothing would run in the simulator, even apps that are being tested by a developer. The Simulator emulates a physical iPhone as much as possible, but there are a variety of limitations. – Philip Regan Feb 6 '11 at 14:14
@philip true, but yours ain't much better as an answer to this question. IMHO the best answer would be "yes, here's the hack" and the second best would be "no, there's no hack to do it yet" from someone who have actually looked hard for it. – cregox Feb 6 '11 at 15:33
@Cawas: Fair enough. I have updated my answer to include information related to actual goal of the OP. – Philip Regan Feb 6 '11 at 15:56
This answer is 100% correct. The iOS simulator comes with system frameworks compiled to run on x86 and which thunk down into OS X frameworks. When you compile your app for the simulator, it is compiled into x86 object files. – Alan Shutko May 5 '15 at 1:01

That is not the intended purpose of the iPhone Simulator. The purpose of the iPhone Simulator is to give developers a convenient testing platform for the application they are developing in those cases where a physical iPhone isn't readily available. It is currently not possible to install applications compiled by other developers within your own iPhone Simulator.

As for testing apps, The App Store does not support demo versions of software or a way to "try before you buy" akin to shareware. The closest developers can get to that paradigm is by offering a "lite" version of their app for free and then a separate, full version for purchase.

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I always considered iPhone Simulator to just (intended to ) be a more practical and faster way than using a physical iPhone. But thinking of your way the question would be even more valid - Suppose we don't have an iPhone. How would we go on and use the Simulator to run the app? – cregox Feb 6 '11 at 16:22
@Cawas: I have updated my answer to include that scenario as well. But, to be clear, the iPhone Simulator is designed for the singular purpose for a developer to conveniently test an application they are building. It does one thing and one thing only. – Philip Regan Feb 6 '11 at 16:26
that's where a hack would come in! unlikely to become as legal as jailbreaking an iphone, but still I doubt it would be as illegal as pirating or stealing. – cregox Feb 6 '11 at 16:28
@Cawas: If there is a hack, I don't know one, so I didn't include it in my answer. Even if I did, I wouldn't include it because I don't agree with hacking or jailbreaking being a software developer myself. Never make assumptions about the App Store software license for users or developers. It is very comprehensive. – Philip Regan Feb 6 '11 at 16:31


iPhone apps meant for an iOS device or App store are compiled by Xcode completely differently from the apps meant for the iOS Simulator (from the same source code, so this Simulator is only good for testing the source, not the App store binary). Completely different and incompatible instruction sets, so no simple hack is possible.


In addition, apps downloaded from the App store are partially encrypted, so that only an actual device can see the all executable code at all.

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