Some of you may recall the brief, shining moment of glory that the original iDOS iPhone app had: it appeared on the iTunes App Store one morning back in October, and was quickly yanked by Apple within a matter of hours.
However, there is now a catch:
The biggest change from iDOS 1.0: iTunes file sharing is now turned off.
That means you will not be able to install windows nor games from your old disc collection.
The original iDOS added an interface to the iPhone app management window in iTunes, which could be used to move files between your hard drive and the app. That feature — and the fact that the app apparently allowed you to access the iOS filesystem (if you were clever) — is ultimately what got it yanked from the App Store initially; Apple’s licensing apparently disallows programs that make the transfer of executable files possible.
Oh, and…be sure to turn down the volume when you first fire up this new iDOS…the opening screen’s sound is rather jarring.
Anyhow, a few improvements have been made to the app that make it worthwhile:
- Virtual gamepad/joystick. With iDOS 1.0, you may not be able to get to floor 3 in wolf3d, but now you can!
- Better landscape mode. And now iPhone has portrait mode interface.
- Bluetooth keyboard support. It is for text based games only.
It is actually a fairly significant update to the app, and it adds some functionality that the first version was sorely lacking. That didn’t stop me from moving a copy of the original iDOS app into my Dropbox before I upgraded, of course…but I don’t think I’ll be downgrading. Because even though there’s not an official means of transferring files into the app, there is still a way to do it.
Allow me to introduce iPhone Explorer.
Using iPhone Explorer, we are going to install Ultima 6 on an iPhone 3GS (but this should work for any iPhone version capable of running iDOS well). To do this, however, we need to make sure a particular setting is turned off inside the program.
Note: If, like me, you were lucky enough to snag a copy of the original version of iDOS, and if you installed any Ultima games therein, you probably won’t need to perform these steps; I noticed on my iPhone 3GS that the Documents folder (discussed below) for the app was preserved during the upgrade, meaning that everything I installed in the original iDOS was available to me in the upgraded version.
From the Edit menu, select Preferences, and make sure the Allow access to “real-root” if iPhone is jailbroken. box is unchecked.
Once that’s done, click on the + sign to expand the Apps listing in the program’s left-hand sidebar:
Scroll down the list (it shouldn’t be that long if you’re an average app user; if you’re like me, it will be pretty crazy-long indeed) until you find an entry with the following name: [random-hash].net.litchie.idos.
This is the iDOS app.
In the right-hand pane of iPhone Explorer, double-click the Documents folder; this folder serves as the C: drive for iDOS.
Now, as you can see, I already have Ultima 6 installed, and a custom batch file readied for it as well. iPhone Explorer supports drag-and-drop, so here’s what you need to do to get Ultima 6 installed from this point:
- Install Ultima 6 to your computer’s hard drive. Anywhere will do.
- Open up a window and navigate through your hard drive until you are looking at the Ultima 6 folder.
- Drag the Ultima 6 folder into the right-hand pane of iPhone Explorer (which should still be displaying the Documents folder of the iDOS app)
- Be patient; iPhone Explorer’s copying isn’t particularly quick, and the progress window sometimes stays hidden. Don’t attempt to re-copy the app; find the progress window and bring it to the foreground. It’ll go away shortly.
At this point, you should be able to fire up the iDOS app on your iPhone, select the C: icon at the bottom of its “game shelf” interface, bring up the keyboard, navigate to Ultima 6′s directory, and launch the game:
And yes, this method should work for any of the other DOS-based Ultima titles…although I wouldn’t expect Ultima 7 (either part) or Ultima 8 to perform all that well.
Oh, yeah: If you want to set up a batch file but don’t remember how, go here.