Just two weeks ago, we saw signs of official Android support for the Raspberry Pi 3, which would put the little single-board computer (SBC) almost on par with the likes of the Nexus devices. However, some more enterprising Android fans aren’t content just to sit down and wait for the announcement to drop. One such user is ric96, a.k.a. “Geek Till it Hertz”, who specializes in all types of fun and insane things to do with the Raspberry Pi. And it can’t get more fun or more insane than installing Android TV on the RPi 3 and then loading all sorts of emulators, which is exactly what ETA PRIME did.
Not that the Raspberry Pi is short on emulators. It is, after all, the computer that powers dozens of DIY projects and hacks that turn things into gaming devices, sometimes as a homage to extinct products. Those usually resort to software like RetroPie. Using the emulators found on Android, specifically Android TV, is a different story.
ETA PRIME took the unofficial Android TV port for the Raspberry Pi 3 for a spin and tried to do his favorite thing: playing emulated games. To demonstrate how smooth Android TV on the RPi 3 ran, of course. His first test stubject as a Nintendo 64 emulator which would be one of the more resource extensive emulators, at least compared to SNES or GameBoy emulators. Amazingly, he was able to squeeze out a constant 30 fps on Mario Kart 64. He does admit he clocked the RPi 3 up to 1.3 GHz instead of the normal 1.2 GHz, but that’s just about the modification he made to boost the RPi’s performance.
The port isn’t perfect yet and there are a few rough edges that need to be smoothed out soon. For one, there seems to be a need for a keyboard every now and then to navigate out of a menu. Android TV should be entirely controllable with a gamepad. Apps also can’t access external storage devices yet, though that one is mostly attributed to an Android 6.0 Marshmallow limitation.
Since it’s still not clear what Google will do with the Raspberry Pi 3 support in its codebase, this unofficial Android TV ROM is the closest you’ll get so far. And so far, it’s good, according to those testing it. It can even run Netflix so you won’t be stuck with games only.