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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Jun 2009
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    Red face Mobile phone emulator for end users on mainstream mobile phone platforms

    Hi, I'm trying to develop a pc application(mainly for microsoft windows) to provide mobile phone simulation(especially on game) experience for the end users. It's like if you are an end user, you can download some mobile apps on your pc and test them on your pc rather than uploading to you mobile device before you really wanna have it.

    I'm not trying to make it a device emulator with the os img installed, as there is no os img publicly available for some os, and it might not be so user-freindly either. All I wanna do is to load and parse the app installation file and simulate the look & feel of it, and help our users to make their decisions if they wanna install it or not.

    If feasibly, we'd like to support the following mobile app file formats:

    1). jar for j2me application(midp 1.x, midp 2.0, cldc 1.x, opengl 3d, feature phone api like nokia, sansumg, simense, motorola, etc.)

    2). sis/sisx for symbian os(s60 v3, s60 v5, s60 uiq, s^2, s^3 etc.)

    3). apk for android os(1.6, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.0 etc.)

    4). cab/exe for windows mobile(mobile 2003, mobile 5.x, mobile 6.x etc.)

    5). ipa for iphone(iphone 3g, 3gs, iphone 4, ipad, ipod etc.)

    For jar it would not be such a big problem, as there are some apps like kemulator, microemulator succeed in doing this. For symbian/android, they might be no problem as they are both opensourced. But for windows mobile/iphone, they are big problems as there are no source code to reference, especially for iphone such a proprietary os.

    Any suggestions or clues are greatly aprreicated. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Super Contributor
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    Re: Mobile phone emulator for end users on mainstream mobile phone platforms

    I don't want to discourage you, but you've set yourself a formidable goal.

    If Symbian and Nokia with all their resources haven't managed to during the last 10-12 years to make a device binary emulator, do not expect it to be easy for a lone, independent developer (especially when the binaries may have OS/platform version and hardware specific dependenies to account for, too).

    And the emulators for J2ME, Android and iPhone that are supplied in the respective SDKs, are also no easy one-man-projects, I suspect.

    In other words, it is not enough to "parse the installation file" (which is easy), but you'd also have to create the whole device/platform specific runtime emulation environment so that you can execute the binaries (you can't "simulate the look & feel", if you can't run the code).

    In any case, as Java (J2ME and Android/Dalvik Java) already are targeting a virtual machine, with those it is easier than native binaries that target actual hardware (Symbian, iPhone, Windows CE/Mobile). Windows Phone 7 and later, is also, to my understanding, running in a managed/virtualized environment, instead of targeting the hardware/CPU directly, so it is a bit like Java in this respect.

    In any case, even for Java, it won't be exactly easy for you, as you'd need to create a compatible Java virtual machine and runtime environment.

    With all the existing Nintendo, Commodore 64, Atari, etc.., emulators, the developers usually have created the hardware emulator that allows the original binaries to be executed (the apps doesn't know it is not running on the real hardware). With ancient devices with much, much simpler processors/hardware, and which no longer evolve, it is much easier - I imagine - than trying to target, e.g., all Symbian versions and Symbian based phones (hundreds of models, vs., e.g., one Commodore 64).

  3. #3
    Nokia Developer Moderator
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    Lempäälä/Finland
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    29,165

    Re: Mobile phone emulator for end users on mainstream mobile phone platforms

    I would think that Symbian sis files are nearly undoable, also wouldn't really see the point, unless it is using cracked applications, also anything that relies on any hardware on devices would definitely not work too well.

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Jun 2009
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    35

    Re: Mobile phone emulator for end users on mainstream mobile phone platforms

    Hi, petrib,
    Thanks for your reply and reminding. You're right, I took it too simple and easy. Actually, we're trying to build an app store which will support trying before buying(or installing)., and We are trying to make the application user-friendly as possible as well. Would you please give me some hint on solution on this?

  5. #5
    Nokia Developer Moderator
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    Feb 2006
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    Oslo, Norway
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    28,749

    Re: Mobile phone emulator for end users on mainstream mobile phone platforms

    The Java-related platforms have the best chances. For Java ME there seem to be even "online" emulators which run in browsers.
    If size does not matter, both Java ME and Android have SDK-s which can run on all main desktop platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac), so technically it is possible to provide all-in-one packages containing the application with an emulator. However these packages are going to be large (*), and they will contain the application which can be extracted from them and put on the real devices with some technical skills.
    Symbian and iOS emulators are platform-dependent, Symbian emulators run on Windows only, iOS emulators are available for Mac OS only. These distributions would be huge too (*), but the contained code could not be hacked out and copied to a real device. On the other hand it would require the application developers to provide emulator builds for your store.
    Windows Mobile/Phone emulators probably combine the two, they are available for Windows only, and there are chances that the real code can be hacked out from them and put on real devices.

    And in any of these cases there can be regulations about distributing the various emulators.

    (*) it is enough to get the emulators once, and deploy the test applications into it, but it certainly needs some maintenance then.

    A completely different approach would be hosting the emulators yourself (either at "home" or via some cloud service), and providing some remote-control service for the users. Technically it is also possible to provide remote access to real devices (you can find a "Remote device access" service on this site, see Devices "menu" above), but such solution does not scale too well.

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