I can't seem to find any updated (or reliable) sources of iOS emulators for Mac, I am running Sierra.

At first I believed that in Xcode, when I went to run my app, was running an emulator, but I was mistaken. I guess it's a simulator. The difference is they have different compatibilities, so if you take an .ipa (iOS app) file and install it onto the Simulator, the app will crash.

My question is are there any iOS emulators out there where I can install real apps from the App Store, or from an .ipa file.

3 Answers 3


There is a recently announced service Corellium that offers virtualised cloud instances of iOS. It's not publicly available yet though and no word of how much it will cost. I'm not aware of any way of running them on your desktop though other than the Xcode simulator.

It is the kind of thing I imagine Apple would have been quick to clamp down on in the past although there is lots of talk about the two app stores converging in the near future so who knows what will happen.

See these links for more info on that:


Apparently a number of researchers have had varying degrees of success booting iOS in QEMU. Here is an article providing a guide on getting iOS 12 to the point of launchd and recoveryd running:


In it's current state it will not allow you to run apps but very interesting none the less and worth keeping an eye as Corellium still appears to be invite only.


Apple is attempting to slowly destroy Corellium. The user daeken on Twitter has been developing an emulator for iOS simulator on macOS that they have stated they are close to releasing (May 2020) though, but will be a commercial product. They appear to have put in a huge amount of work and have demonstrated a number of apps working on it.


On your Mac terminal, type the following:

open /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Applications/Simulator.app/

It will open an iOS simulator that allows you to select which specific iOS device you want to emulate. This works in the latest versions of Mac (I'm using High Sierra).

  • 1
    The premise of the question is that the iOS simulator is unsuitable. The question is looking for an emulator to ‘install real apps from the App Store, or from an .ipa file’.
    – grg
    Jun 30, 2018 at 6:56
  • 1
    Idk why some one downvoted it. This literally works out of box if you have xcode installed.
    – Isu
    Mar 30, 2023 at 12:40

First off, iOS emulators don’t really exist. The problem is that iOS is closed source. On the other hand, Android emulators exist due to android being open source. So, since Apple has not released its own emulator, it is quite unlikely that a true iOS emulator will exist as of now.

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