Android gets ported to the Nintendo Switch! – You might soon be able to turn your Switch into a fully-fledged tablet
For quite a while, it’s been possible to run Linux on fusee-gelee vulnerable Nintendo Switch consoles which gives you a fully-fledged browser, ability to use emulators like Dolphin (with limited success) and much more. Unfortunately, desktop Linux distributions aren’t really meant for use with 7-inch tablets so the UI can get a bit clunky but now, Android got ported to the Switch which may make running Linux on your device much more appealing!
Android on the Nintendo Switch and its current state
Initial hints that work was underway on getting Android to run on the Switch came in the form of a tweet from natinusala, a developer that worked a lot on the Switch’s RetroArch port, on February 12 showing a Switch booting (or trying to, anyway) Android.
Fast-forwarding a little under two weeks, work on porting Android to the Switch reached pretty advanced stages and to share the progress, Max Keller (@langer_hans) published a video (below) of a Nintendo Switch running Android Q (which looks quite similar to Android Pie), the upcoming version of Android and successor to Pie (9.0)!
As of right now, this Android port which is apparently a joint effort between Max Keller and ByLaws (Billy Laws) is still work-in-progress and from the video, it seems to be at the current stage:
Framebuffer output and the touchscreen input are working fine
- WiFi and Bluetooth are supported so connecting to the Internet and browsing is possible (and demonstrated in the video as well)
- The joycons function which could open quite a few possibilities relating to Android gaming
- Performance isn’t too great because the graphics acceleration isn’t working since the GPU drivers are functioning as they should.
- Thankfully, this problem is being worked on so it may only be a short while before Android starts running smoothly on the Switch!
- Some things like SDCard support and rotation support weren’t demonstrated in the video or mentioned in any tweet so there’s no confirmation about their status as of yet
- If you weren’t following Switch Linux news, the infamous battery bug was fixed last year so you needn’t worry about that.
What are the benefits of running Android on the Switch? Can I get it right now?
As the Switch has a powerful (albeit underclocked) Tegra X1 CPU and 4GB RAM, it could make a pretty decent performing Android tablet thus making it much more useful. Among the things that Android could bring to the Switch, we find:
- A fully-fledged browser letting you browse the web without having to mess around too much
- Right now, you can use homebrew like BrowseNX but the Switch’s browser (that Nintendo hides) is a bit lacking the UI department thus making it a bit difficult to navigate
- Access to a plethora of applications like social media, productivity and entertainment apps thus turning your Switch into an all-in-one tablet that shines at gaming and regular usage
- A wide range of Android games like Age Of Zombies and Fruit Ninja among many others that aren’t available on the Switch
- The ability to use Android-exclusive software like DraStic, a proprietary DS emulator that’s very high performing, and unofficial Citra (3DS emulator) builds among many others
Right now, there is no download link available for Android on the Switch and no ETA has been given either. However, there may be a decent chance of a release happening in the foreseeable future especially if the GPU driver issue is fixed.
On a concluding note, it’s important to state that the best thing you can do now is just wait for more information about Android on the Switch as a release may come sooner or later. To keep up to date with the latest developments, you can check out Max Keller’s Twitter and remember not to pester him or ByLaws for a release 😉
Max Keller’s Twitter (further updates): https://twitter.com/langer_hans
Tweet with the video of the Switch running Android:
— Max Keller (@langer_hans) February 23, 2019