The Switch hacking scene has been steadily growing for quite some time now, with it getting its start not too long after the console first launched back in early 2017. Fast-forward to now, and many different projects have come about from the Switch hacking community. One of the more ambitious projects has been getting Android to run on the system. Efforts have been made in the past, but now things have really taken off with a port of LineageOS.
LineageOS is a ‘flavor’ of Android that is free and open-source. It can be flashed onto a variety of devices, and now that includes Nintendo Switch systems that have been hacked. This is the first publically available Android release for the Switch, and it came about mostly thanks to the Nvidia Shield TV also supporting Android. The Shield TV uses the same Nvidia Tegra X1 chip that powers the Switch, so the developers of this Switch Android ROM were able to use the coding from that to create this port of the OS.
LineageOS on Switch functions just as you would expect any Android tablet to perform. Features like the Play Store and a browser are present, along with full support for the Joy-Con and even (basic) Bluetooth audio. Apps that are still missing from the native Switch like Netflix are also now accessible.
Here it is in action:
Not all hacking is bad
The topic of Switch hacking has been discussed extensively here on Nintendo Enthusiast, and most of it has been negative as a lot of it has revolved around reports of piracy. But, this is one of the rarer instances where hacking has led to something cool, rather than it being nefarious. Seeing Android running on Switch just goes to show that Nintendo itself could do way more with the actual Switch OS, as the system is clearly capable of it. But, for some reason, the company has still kept SwitchOS extremely bare bones. Perhaps that has to do with optimizing for speed more than anything else. Regardless, the X1 has enough power to handle more, as evidenced by this Android ROM.
Nintendo cannot really do anything to stop projects like this from happening (and who knows if this specifically is that much of a bother?) Though, the upcoming revised and improved Switch model along with the Switch Lite feature a different chipset than the units we’ve had up until now. That new chipset is a slightly enhanced version of the same Tegra X1, but it now goes by the codename of ‘Mariko’. The Mariko-based Tegra X1s have been said to feature coding that is completely different than the first-gen Switch units, so all of the exploits that hackers have found would be impossible to use with the ‘new’ Switch units. There’s no telling if the Mariko chipsets will be hacked as quickly as the original Switch was, but Nintendo is likely hoping that is not the case, in addition to most likely taking more precautions this time around.