Nintendo Switch running Android is off to a good start

Ewdison Then - Feb 24, 2019, 10:20pm CST
Nintendo Switch running Android is off to a good start

Next to Linux itself, Android has become the operating system that hobbyists and modders try to put on almost any computing device, particular those with screens. It’s definitely convenient that Android was crafted with ARM devices in mind, the very same chips that power many embedded and mobile systems, including, for example, the Nintendo Switch. The work to get Android running on the console just started in earnest recently and while there’s still a lot of work to be done, it has already reached an impressive milestone.

When the effort was reported just last week, the port barely worked. Thanks to earlier efforts to port the Linux kernel to the Nintendo Switch, Android got to at least the logo. It was explained that it was partly due to missing drivers needed to get things working.

Now a new developer posted on Twitter a video demonstrating what happens when you get past the boot screen. What you get is a seemingly normal vanilla AOSP setup that almost works completely. At least it responds to touch, can rotate the screen, loads the settings app, and navigate with the Joy-Con buttons. It even runs the unreleased, still in development Android Q!

Developer Max Keller credits the foundational work done by ByLaws to get the ball rolling and notes how even some basic things still don’t work. While Wi-Fi and Bluetooth do, audio still doesn’t. Neither does USB though he doesn’t explain if that disables charging as well.

Most important, however, is that all of this runs only on the CPU, not utilizing the NVIDIA Tegra X1’s powerful graphics capabilities. That’s mostly due to still missing GPU drivers, which also explains the odd color scheme. In other words, even if you risk everything and successfully get Android to run on your Switch, don’t expect to play games on it yet.

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