Launching an iOS App in Mac OS X Gives an Interesting Error Message

Apr 7, 2011 - 7 Comments

This may or may not mean anything, but one of our readers sent in a tip that you get an interesting error message when trying to launch an iOS app in Mac OS X Lion:

“You can’t open this application (App name) because it is not supported on this type of Mac”

Does this suggest “this type of Mac” isn’t supported but another might be? Who knows, I found this fascinating in lieu of iMac Touch and similar iOS & Mac OS X hybrid patents, but don’t read too much into it.

I tried this myself in Mac OS X 10.6 and got the same message, as you can see in the screenshot above. You can do this too by accessing iOS apps from Mac OS X, after you extract the .zip file just open Payload and launch the .app file to receive the message.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS


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  1. Patrick says:

    Better late then never… if you run the app in the terminal you get this “Payload/Hay Day: Bad CPU type in executable”

    iOs is bascally a stripped version of os x, but has a different chip set… :-)

  2. […] This whole thing is interesting to me, especially in light of the recent Apple patents and interesting error message that you get when you try to launch an iOS app under Mac OS X (which, however, is the same message […]

  3. methionine_ says:

    iOS and Mac OS X all run a version of Darwin. Subsequently, both of them use the Mach-O binary format. The Mach-O format specification requires that the CPU architecture is stated in the header. The reason you see that error is because Snow Leopard can only run Intel (x86/x86_64) binaries, or if you have Rosetta, PPC binaries. The iOS apps also use the Mach-O binary format. However, their CPU architecture is ARM, which Snow Leopard can’t run as it isn’t running on an ARM machine, nor does it have an translation layer such as Rosetta. As such, it gives the error message you see. If you were to compile any application for any other architecture and try to run it on SL, you would get the same exact message.

  4. inket says:

    That’s what you get when you try to run an x86_64 app on PPC. (Here you’re trying to a run an ARM app on x86_64)

  5. Eric says:

    If you try to run an app designed only for Intel-based macs on a PPC (i.e. G5), the same error happens. I wouldn’t read into this at all.

  6. Beams says:

    iOS is based on Mac OS X so really the iOS apps are Mac OS apps. Future Macs will probably run them natively in a touch layer is my theory.

    • Russ Frantz says:

      Thank you for the postings-the Mac users are so different than the traditional IBM Clone users-they actually offer reasonable solutions! Recently I learned that the iPod comes with 32Gb, but almost 1Gb is used exclusively for the Touch capability. Many desktop PCs and perhaps even laptops come with 4Gb, especially the WalMart ones. It may take a very robust computer in order to run the touch layer on a Mac. Apple has always been known for superior graphics, however. Is the touch layer even affordable? Russ

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