The Nintendo Switch Was Almost An Android Device, But Cyanogen Said No


A report from earlier in the week confirmed that the Nintendo Switch is powered by a Tegra X1 chip, which is the same one used by Nvidia's Shield Android TV.

Now, a new report claims that the hybrid console almost shared more than just the Tegra X1 chip with the Nvidia Shield Android TV, as Nintendo initially looked to have the Nintendo Switch run on Android.

Nintendo Switch Almost An Android Device

In June 2015, there were rumors that the Nintendo Switch, then known by its codename Nintendo NX, would use Google's Android platform as its operating system. By choosing to have the console run on Android, it would be easier and less expensive for developers to make games for the device.

Nintendo later denied the claims, stating that the Nintendo NX would be powered by Android. However, as a new report reveals, Nintendo might not be the one that made that decision.

According to Cyanogen chairman Kirt McMaster, Nintendo approached the company and asked it to create a custom OS for a device that was simply described as a portable one. McMaster, however, refused the request by Nintendo.

The reason for Cyanogen's rejection of Nintendo's request to make a custom Android OS for the Nintendo Switch is likely due to the fact that any operating system that would be injected into the hybrid console would be very locked down. The idea went against Cyanogen's beliefs that users should have complete control over their devices.

According to McMaster, Nintendo still utilized pieces of Android to create the operating system of the Nintendo Switch, with the current software in the hybrid console mostly a custom kernel with small Android components within it. With the Tegra X1 chip optimized for Android, it is understandable that Nintendo incorporated some of the operating system's code to keep the Nintendo Switch running smoothly.

When the Nintendo Switch was announced last year, it was actually considered as a spiritual successor to the Nvidia Shield, which did not take off due to the lack of games that would have made the mobile device a gaming machine capable of taking on the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.

Nintendo Switch On Android: What Could Have Been

If Nintendo was able to convince Cyanogen to create a custom Android OS for the Nintendo Switch, it may have helped in adding several features to the hybrid console that are currently missing. Among these features would be a complete internet browser and support for Android apps, such as streaming apps for videos and music.

The decision of Nintendo to approach Cyanogen instead of Google directly is interesting though. With the strict rules of Google to license Android to other companies, and Nintendo's desire to have tight control over the operating system of the Nintendo Switch, perhaps the company did not want to deal with the necessary obligations and tried to have Cyanogen deal with those things for them.

Cyanogen shut down at the end of 2016, as it ended its mission of building versions of Android that will function better than those created by Google itself. If Cyanogen agreed to Nintendo's request, we will never know whether the company would have lived on or if it would still have shut down, which may have plunged the Nintendo Switch into trouble.

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