What you need to know

  • Developer Billy Laws (ByLaws) will soon release an unofficial Android port for the Nintendo Switch, although no ETA is available yet.
  • Once released, the port will allow you to use your Nintendo Switch exactly like an Android tablet.
  • Not all Android apps will work on the portable gaming console, since it lacks certain hardware components such as a GPS chip and a camera.

Back in February, developers Billy Laws and Max Keller managed to get Android running on Nintendo's Switch gaming system for the first time. Four months later, ByLaws is now very close to releasing that unofficial Android port. While there is still some time left for the public release, the folks over at XDA Developers managed to get an early hands-on experience with Android on the Nintendo Switch.

The unofficial Android port lets one use the Nintendo Switch pretty much like an Android tablet. Thanks to its Tegra X1 chipset and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, the Nintendo Switch delivers a largely smooth experience when playing games downloaded from the Play Store. The hands-on report notes that while PUBG Mobile runs well on balanced graphics setting, the Joycons don't work currently and it is not possible to choose higher graphics as those options will apparently come to the device "soon".

Apart from PUBG Mobile and a few other games, however, Joycons work quite well with most other games and apps. The only issue is that they only work in wireless mode, even when physically connected to the sides of the console. Aside from gaming, the Android port will let you use the Switch for media consumption as well, thanks to support for apps such as Netflix and YouTube. When docked, the Nintendo Switch can output the display to a bigger screen via HDMI. You can even plug in a keyboard and a mouse, thanks to the three USB ports on the Switch dock.

Fortunately, the Android port for the Switch runs off the microSD card, which means you will not have to worry about getting banned from using Nintendo's services. However, the port only works on an exploitable Switch — one bought before July 2018. It is also important to note that the Switch lacks a built-in GPS, a microphone, and a camera. As a result, apps such as Pokemon Go, Snapchat, or Google Duo will simply not work on the portable console.

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