You may remember last October when a little app called iDOS snuck its way into the App Store. Every once in a while the review team at Apple falls asleep at the wheel and approves an app that probably shouldn't be allowed in the App Store. iDOS was one of those apps. It was a version of the DOSbox emulator that let you run DOS on your iOS device and load up all sorts of crazy old PC software.

Ah yes, I remember the iDOS day well. It was so much fun watching our article on iDOS constantly getting updated with whatever new feat of magic was discovered by the eager members in our forums. Many classic PC games ran incredibly well in iDOS, with full keyboard and mouse support, and the coup de grace was actually installing Microsoft Windows 3.0 on an iPad and playing the classic version of Solitaire included with it.

Like all good things though, the iDOS phenomenon quickly came to an end, and the app was removed from the App Store almost as suddenly as it appeared. Being able to load and run entire outside programs from within the iDOS app is a big no no according to Apple, and the thousands of people who had downloaded iDOS quickly backed up the app to their hard drives for safekeeping.

Then last night, iDOS surprisingly showed its face again in the App Store. In order to get it through the approval process, developer FAST Intelligence closed up the iTunes file sharing rabbit hole that was the gateway to loading whatever DOS programs you wanted, but has added some other nice functionality to try and compensate.

There are now 6 legal shareware games preloaded in iDOS which can be downloaded for free from the new “iDOS Store” within the app. The games can then be launched easily by selecting them from your collection, and no knowledge of DOS commands is necessary to get them going. For those that want to though, there is still access to the full DOS prompt for launching games.

Other additions include a full virtual joystick/d-pad and buttons rather than just a virtual keyboard, the ability to play on the iPhone/iPod touch in portrait mode just like the iPad, and Bluetooth keyboard support for text-based games. The virtual gamepad is actually really good, and makes playing games like Wolfenstein 3D a whole lot more enjoyable.

While it is pretty disappointing that you won't be able to go nuts running programs using the new iDOS, it's actually a pretty solid little emulator and still fun to play around with. Word on the street is that jailbroken devices can still load whatever games they want into this new version using file managing programs, but that doesn't seem very exciting to me since iDOS has been available as DosPad in the jailbreak App Store Cydia for a long time now, and offers that same functionality.

These screenshots show the new portrait mode gamepad controls for the iPad (left) and the iPhone (right). Click either image to enlarge.

If you missed out on iDOS the first time, it's still worth checking out this new version despite its limitations, especially as it's now free to download. Be warned though – if you have the original version of iDOS in your iTunes library, this new version is actually an update that will replace that one, so it's suggested that you back up the original app before downloading version 2.0. There's a brand new thread in our forums for discussing this rereleased version of iDOS, and hopefully this time Apple will let it stick around for longer than one day.

App Store Link: iDOS, Free (Universal)

  • Funksoulxl

    I updated to the latest version and yes it removed the iTunes file transfer support but at least the emu kept my game files that I had transferred to it previosuly.

  • Alexander 'Bambi' Sadler

    Screw that
    *goes and downloads full unlocked DOSPad version from Cydia*

    ahhh Commander Keen

    • Hankytime

      *goes and plays on iDos on an unjailbroken, fully updated iPad*

      Yeah, I think I win.

    • Hankytime

      *goes and plays on iDos on an unjailbroken, fully updated iPad*

      Yeah, I think I win.

    • Hankytime

      *goes and plays on iDos on an unjailbroken, fully updated iPad*

      Yeah, I think I win.

  • Anonymous

    I have to repost this, as I'm excited 🙂 There is still an easy way to do file transfers even if not jailbroken:

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for reposting this! 🙂

    • xyzzy

      hey thanks this is exactly why I peeked into the comments, have a 2g M version so I cant even jailbreak my device... have a whole bunch of DOS games thinking of loading up dangerous dave, hocus pocus, comix zone and the original skyroads.

  • thewiirocks

    It's worth noting that not all the apps are the shareware versions. Some of the apps have been released as Freeware by the authors, thus are the full version in iDOS. (e.g. Major Stryker) How cool is that? 🙂

  • Spacyricochet

    With BoxOfSnoo's comment, it's actually interesting to download it. Still a shame I missed out on the previous version.

    Also, funny how Apple doesn't check the iTunes update text 😛 "+++THINK THRICE BEFORE UPDATING+++" You'd think they'd frown upon that.

    • Hankytime

      This version is better than the other one.... It's way more convenient to not have to deal with unzipping on the ipad.

  • Anonymous

    So, some quick questions: what are the games available in the iDOS store, can we request more somewhere (like Ultima IV, which is freely available on DOS), and how does one back up the original app if one would like to try the new interface but doesn't want to lose the original functionality?

    • Alan Smithee

      Backing-up on the Mac:

      1. Open iTunes.
      2. Right-click the icon of the app you want to back-up, and choose Show in Finder.
      3. A window titled "Mobile Applications" will open up. All those .ipa files you see now? They're the iOS apps.
      4. Copy the .ipa file for the app you want, and paste it somewhere safe.
      5. And you're done.

  • Anonymous

    I was surprised to this reappear in my update list last night, but at the same time kinda bugged. From now on I'm gonna haveta update all my apps one by one rather than update all.

    I kinda wish it had been resubmitted as a new app. I'd possibly have bought the new version as well 😉

  • Adams Immersive

    Neat! Wolf3D even has an in-game manual. Now I can finally play the dawn of first-person shooters. AND the predecessor of my favorite game, Quake Wars. (Wolf3D -> Return to Castle Wolfenstein -> Enemy Territory -> Quake Wars!)

    Now I want the first first-person shooter I ever played... the DOS version of Descent! That would be a serious touchscreen challenge...

  • MaximiliumM


    It is still possible to install anything you want even on a non-jailbroken. Just use the application iPhone Explorer, find iDOS folder and put anything you want inside the Documents folder. The same as before ;D

  • GodSon

    I am SO happy to see this back in the Appstore. Thanks for the tip also to get more games for non-Jailbroken devices. 😉

  • Overseas calls

    I will download an iDOS, because I want to have that games. I think this will be fun 😉 . I wish to have one of this, besides from its unique application it is also exciting. Hope you will feature more of the newest and popular games.

  • Gogo

    I downloaded this app and it's just great. They added a lot of features since the last version and the whole interface looks much better. Now you the retro keyboard on an iphone/ipod too.

    And one mor thing: YOU CAN ADD additional staff to to the iDos. I already installed some other games, Windows 95 and Windows 3.1.

    When you have a jailbroken device, you can start iFunBox and copy the files in Directory of iDosDocuments manually