Android comes to the Nintendo Switch complete with support for native NVIDIA Shield apps

What does Android have to do with the world’s most successful handheld gaming console for the last decade?

Until a few hours ago, the answer to that question was easy: nothing, really.

However, going forward, things aren’t as easy. They’re complicated.

The Switch, released by Japanese gaming powerhouse Nintendo over 2 years ago, is now the latest device to get some Android love thanks to the efforts of enthusiast tinkerers who have managed to get a port for it on the custom LineageOS.

In simple words, for those keen enough on voiding any remaining bit of their game console’s warranty, it is now possible to run a trial build of Android on the Switch. While the people behind the custom ROM that makes it all possible, Switchroot, say that an “official” release is still underway, it’s best to know that there is nothing official about this as Nintendo is unlikely to give their blessing for software they’re not overseeing to run on their devices. That is the forte of some shady Turkish brand.

For the experienced Switch user in the house who is already asking themselves if the custom Android software, based on version 15 of LineageOS, still allows for the Joy-Cons to function as they should then the answer is yes, 100%. Joy-Cons, as well as the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, work as usual. Heck, even the usual keyboard and mouse combo, when docked for some big screen action, also work. Basically, the expectations, at least hardware-wise, are met.

Where things change, obviously, is the software. Ditching Nintendo’s ecosystem for something else means that there will be a glaring shortage of some of the darlings players have been used to. Not to worry, though, as support for GeForce Now, NVIDIA’s own cloud gaming service that allows users on multiple platforms to stream as many as over 500 game titles, is included. As are many of the native apps that one can find on the NVIDIA Shield.

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Of course, there’s the usual bag of bugs that comes with running experimental software not intended for whatever device you have. Like, poor battery life, for instance. Or some apps and games not playing nice with the controllers. Nothing that you can’t live with but worth noting at the same time.

Even better, as noted on XDA Developers, “Installing Android on your Nintendo Switch does not touch the main OS installed on it, so you don’t need to worry about breaking anything.” Phew!

If this has you all excited and drooling as you read it then it’s probably time to get your hands dirty. As usual, XDA Developers is the best place to start.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com