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The Nintendo Switch nearly ran a custom version of Android

Published Mar 21st, 2017 7:08PM EDT
Nintendo Switch Android OS
Image: Serpell-Rand/REX/Shutterstock

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The Switch console is already a huge success for Nintendo, even though it lacks a bunch of features. A new report reveals one interesting detail about the Switch’s development that could have made the gaming device a lot better: Android. Apparently, Nintendo was interested in having the Switch run Android, just not Google’s version.

A Cyanogen chairman revealed on Twitter that Nintendo did indeed seek out help from Cyanogen but he “told them to stick it.”

As 9to5Google explains, Cyanogen’s refusal to cooperate isn’t surprising. The Switch would have needed a special type of Android-based OS, one that would essentially be a locked down version of Android, one that Nintendo would be able to control. That’s practically against what Cyanogen was as a company.

Nintendo apparently still used bits of Android to build the OS for the new console, mixed with a custom kernel.

Having full Android on Switch may have helped Nintendo bring over a slew of features, including a web browser, and support for a bunch of apps, including streaming video services.

Cyanogen, once the most popular custom Android out there, ran into various problems later down the road. Why would Nintendo reach out to CyanogenMod rather than Google? Well, and I’m just speculating here, Google has some strict rules when it comes to licensing Android to others, so maybe Nintendo wanted to skirt some of the obligations that come with running Google’s Android. Not to mention that, again, Nintendo wanted tighter control over the Switch OS, something Google may have not allowed.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.