Debug app “TestApplicationLauncher” spotted on a retail Switch console
A user on reddit shared a picture of their newly acquired Nintendo Switch a few weeks ago. But instead of your typical Splatoon 2 screenshot, what was on that user’s Switch was a debug application, “TestApplicationLauncher”.
According to SciresM and other Switch hackers, TestApplicationLauncher is part of the initial bare-bones firmware that is installed on Nintendo Switch devices at Factory setup time. This minimal OS’s job is to run a series of diagnosis tools, then install the actual retail firmware on the console (during this process, we assume the debug tools are deleted).
According to the switchbrew wiki, multiple applications are run on the Switch to test multiple aspects of its hardware: Wireless, usb, GPU, LCD, Keyboard, etc… all of these tests are ran on the console before calibration data being written to the NAND and retail firmware being installed. The wiki also implicitly confirms that the reddit screenshot was not a hoax.
It is probably very rare to have a retail console that somehow didn’t go through that initial factory setup and retained the TestApplicationLauncher and other debug tools.
Getting access to such a rare console might let hackers look deeper into some of the internals of the Nintendo switch, to learn more about it and potential vulnerabilities. Even if not useful for hacking purposes, the item is probably rare enough that it would gain significant value on the collector’s market. Unfortunately, it appears the original poster on Reddit ended up returning the console for an exchange (losing potentially good money in the process).
Source: via @SciresM