BlackThunder

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BlackThunder
Blackthunder icon.png
Developer(s) Hangzhou Kiwi Logic Technology Co., Ltd
Latest version v2.0.25.2165
Active Yes
Platform(s) Windows
Architecture(s) x86
Emulates iOS
Website heilei.com
License Closed-source

BlackThunder (Chinese: 黑雷) 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.

General Information[edit]

Name OS Version Free VM Accuracy Recommended
BlackThunder Windows v2.0.25.2181 ~ [N 1] VirtualBox (public versions) / VMware Workstation (beta versions) N/A[N 2]
  1. Some games require payment by usage time.
  2. 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.

In the past, a specially made Hackintosh VirtualBox disk image (Which is a highly trimmed macOS High Sierra containing Xcode) is required for BlackThuder, but users need to obtain the image manually on the downloading page of BlackThunder website. As of version 2.0, the Hackintosh image is intergated to BlackThuder's installer and the website is therefore no longer provide any download link to it.

BlackThunder is capable to run up to 73 commercial iOS apps (10 programs and 63 games), including some popular games like Arena of Valor. All apps must be downloaded from BlackThunder's own server and typically, users cannot directly run their own apps. However, any company or individual that obtained permissions from Developer Platform can sumbit their apps (packaged in patched IPA format) to BlackThunder. All sumbitted apps that were secured and reviewed by BlackThunder will be added to the server.[1]

All officially supported app run quite fine (including graphic, 3D acceleration, sound, touch and network) as long as the host PC is capable to.

System Requirements[edit]

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

Officially suggested hardware: [2]

  • CPU: Intel i3 series or better
    • 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
    • SSDs 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 proprietary status, working principle of BlackThunder is not clear yet, but a component diagram can be plotted out by analyzing the behavior from a running emulator.

When emulator is started, BlackThunder backend will first load up VirtualBox, which load up the Hackintosh image. 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. All graphics and sounds from the Xcode simulator will be send to BlackThunder frontend, which send user inputs to backend.

Xcode simulator can only run x86-based apps, while ARM-based apps can't, 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. All iOS apps in "BlackThunder App Store" are actually unzipped x86 IPA packages. These packages will be injected into the Xcode simulator in the VirtualBox disk image and be executed within.

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, which violates Apple Software License Agreement of macOS High Sierra.

Lack of Applications[edit]

Currently, users cannot load their own apps directly into the emulator (although sumbitting apps from Developer Platform is allowed), and all apps provided by BlackThunder are heavily China-oriented, which render it useless for non-Chinese users.

Localization Issues[edit]

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]