Project Sandcastle lets you run Android on an iPhone

It’s happened! You can now run Android on an iPhone. But hold on, there is a giant asterisk after that statement.

Android is the most popular mobile operating system on the planet. The OS runs on over 70% of all the world’s mobile devices, according to Statista. Android runs on TVs, in cars, on smartwatches and there’s even a way to run Android on the Nintendo Switch. Now, Project Sandcastle allows Android 10 to run on the iPhone 7, 7+ and the iPod Touch 7th generation.

Corellium, a cybersecurity startup created Project Sandcastle. About a decade ago, Corellium co-founders David Wang and Chris Wade were able to port an older version of Android to the original iPhone. That project took over a year. However, the new Project Sandcastle took less than a month. The team were able to create this new hack tool in record time thanks to their virtualisation software.

Android running on the original iPhone. (Image: Project Sandcastle)

Project Sandcastle comes right on the midst of legal trouble between Corellium and Apple. According to Forbes, Apple is suing Corellium for what it claims is copyright infringement. Corellium creates virtual machines (VMs) that run iOS. Corellium’s software enables users to run iOS without the need for a physical device. Apple is not happy with Corellium’s efforts to replicate its OS.

By those VMs, Project Sandcastle was born. The road to Android on iPhones was a rocky one. Apple doesn’t publish details about its hardware and software. So, the Project Sandcastle team had to write a myriad of code to get working drivers for the iPhones. Even with some success, the software only works on the iPhone 7 duo and iPod Touch with limited functionality. Currently, the GPU, cellular radio, and camera don’t work while using Android. Also, there’s no audio output. However, they managed to get the screen, WiFi and Bluetooth to run. The tool is available online for download on the Project Sandcastle website. But be very careful as the software is still an early beta. Don’t mess with your phone if you don’t know what you’re doing.

This iPhone is running Android. (Image: Forbes)

Project Sandcastle is sure to infuriate Apple’s executives. However, the Project Sandcastle team believes their hack is necessary. The Project Sandcastle team wrote: “The iPhone restricts users to operate inside a sandbox. But when you buy an iPhone, you own the iPhone hardware. Android for the iPhone gives you the freedom to run a different operating system on that hardware.”

Even the project’s name seems to be in outright defiance to Apple’s mode of operation. They also wrote: “Where sandboxes set limits and boundaries, sandcastles provide an opportunity to create something new from the limitless bounds of your imagination.”

Here’s a list of supported functions using the Android hack. Image: Project Sandcastle.

Apple has long taken a “walled garden” approach to the iPhone. There are restrictions at every turn. While many (including Apple) say that the limitations are for user’s security, some still believe Apple’s boundaries are for profit. Project Sandcastle gives users a choice. But only if you have an iPhone 7 or 7+.