Nintendo Switch Android port work has begun

JC Torres - Feb 19, 2019, 10:24 pm CST
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Nintendo Switch Android port work has begun

No gaming console has ever been safe from modders and hackers who try to make it do things manufacturers never intended it to, much less allow. More often than not, Linux is the go to OS that these hackers put on devices. Android, which is also based on Linux, is now becoming the next best option. Despite the initial hurdles, the Nintendo Switch is starting to reveal chinks in its armor for developers to get into. And, unsurprisingly, one of them has started the long trek to getting Android to run on the device.

From a pure hardware perspective, the Nintendo Switch does resemble an Android tablet anyway. It has a 720p capacitive touch screen in a tablet form factor and even runs on an NVIDIA Tegra X1, the mobile chip that powers the NVIDIA SHIELD. In fact, there was a time when Nintendo was rumored to be considering hiring Cyanogen, Inc. to port their Android-based OS to the device.

At the end of the day, however, the Nintendo Switch is still a very closed product and Nintendo wants to keep it that way. Thanks to the latest Fusee Gelee hack, however, it has become possible to get deep into the system. A working Linux kernel has even been ported to it, which opens the door for other projects, like porting Android.

It’s no walk in the park, of course. Developer ByLaws0 says that right now, the Switch only boots up to the Android logo due to an issue with nouveau, the open source NVIDIA graphics driver. It needs a lot of work on writing hardware drivers as well, which is to say a working Android on Switch port shouldn’t be expected any time soon.

Why go through all this trouble then? Other than rising to the challenge that makes any hacker’s heart palpitate, being able to run Android on Switch, especially if it means safely dual booting with Nintendo’s custom OS, could mean turning the console into a gaming handheld and a portable media device in one. Nintendo might not like it, but that could even boost Switch sales a bit, at least among daring modders.


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