BlackThunder

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BlackThunder (Chinese:黑雷模拟器) is a commercial, closed-source iOS emulator developed by Hangzhou Kiwi Logic Technology Co., Ltd in China. Currently it is capable to run a few commercial iOS applications and games.

BlackThunder
Blackthunder icon.png
Developer(s) Hangzhou Kiwi Logic Technology Co., Ltd
Latest version v1.1.15.2091
Active Yes
Platform(s) Windows
Architecture(s) x86
Emulates iOS
Website heilei.com
License Closed-source

General Information[edit]

Name OS Version Free VM Accuracy Recommended
BlackThunder Windows v1.1.15.2091[N 1] ~ [N 2] VirtualBox (public versions) / VMware Workstation (beta versions) N/A[N 3]
  1. Only v1.1.11.2072 is provided on the website. Users can get v1.1.15.2091 (latest) by its in-program updater.
  2. Some games require payment by usage time.
  3. Accuracy cannot be evaluated since its working principle is majorly different than iOS used on real devices.

Unlike previous iOS emulation attempts, BlackThuder make use of iOS emulator embedded in Xcode, which form a double-layer virtualization, rather than trying to emulate iOS devices (iPhone, iPad etc.) themselves.

To use this emulator, a specially made Hackintosh VirtualBox disk image (Which is a highly trimmed macOS High Sierra containing Xcode) is required. This image can be obtained on the downloading page of BlackThunder website.

BlackThunder is capable to run up to 73 commercial iOS programs (10 applications, 63 games), including some popular games like Arena of Valor. However, all applications must be download from BlackThunder server and user cannot run their own apps. All officially supported applications run quite fine (including graphic, 3D acceleration, sound, touch and network) as long as the host PC is capable to run the emulator.

System Requirements[edit]

Due to its double-layer virtualization, a mid-high end PC is required.

Officially suggested hardware : [1]

  • CPU:Intel i3 series processor or better Notice: AMD processors are not supported due to the Hackintosh image used in the emulator is not patched for AMD.
  • RAM: 8GB or more
  • Disk: 10GB or more free space. Solid state drives are recommended due to high read/write burden on hard drive.
  • Video card: Any modern video card that support OpenGL is okay.

How It Works[edit]

Blackthunder Component Diagram

Due to its source is closed, details of the emulator working principle is not clear, but by analyzing the behavior while the emulator is running, a component diagram can be plotted out.

When emulator is started, BlackThunder backend will first load up VirtualBox, which load up the Hackintosh image provided by user. Such image contain a copy of Xcode that will be started and also load built in iOS simulator (a.k.a "Xcode simulator") once the macOS in the image is booted up, hence the double-layer virtualization is set up. Then, image and sound of the Xcode simulator will be send to BlackThunder frontend, and frontend will send user inputs back to backend.

Xcode simulator can only run applications compiled for x86 architecture, and real iOS devices are ARM based, so a "conversion", or to say, decompiling, is needed. This is done beforehand by BlackThunder, and that is why users cannot add their own apps. How decompiling is done is unknown, due to it's on the server side and users cannot interfere with this process. When users download a iOS app in "BlackThunder App Store", what is downloaded is actually an unzipped IPA package compiled for x86. Later on, this package will be injected into the Xcode simulator in the VirtualBox disk image and execute.

Issues[edit]

Legal Issues[edit]

The Hackintosh image used in BlackThunder is highly trimmed (under 3GB) and contain other modification compared to regular macOS in Mac computers, and distributed on BlackThunder website, which violates Apple Software License Agreement of macOS High Sierra.

Probably to avoid legal impact on the company, The image is distributed either via a file sharing service called BaiduPan or torrent under individual name, rather than hosted on BlackThunder server.

Lack of Applications[edit]

Currently, users cannot load their own apps into the emulator, and BlackThunder privided apps are heavily China-oriented, which render it useless for non-Chinese.

Localization Issues[edit]

Users need a BlackThunder account to login the emulator before using. Registering such an account require a in-use Chinese cellphone number that can receive SMS, or a Chinese social media account (QQ/WeChat/Sina Weibo). such limitation make it quite hard for non-Chinese to register an account to use the emulator.

Also, the emulator UI is in Chinese and not localized. However, users can still change the emulated iOS UI language.

Payment[edit]

Though BlackThunder is free to use, some games require extra payment by usage time, and numbers of applications of free users are also limited.

References[edit]