EDIT: Since this Article was published, a Nintendo Representative made a statement about the Rumour, and has effectively stated that Nintendo will not be using Android for NX. My original article did comment that the news was unconfirmed, was generally still considered a rumour. I have left the Original Article unedited.
With recent news/rumour about Nintendo’s NX Console system that could be using Android Operating system. So before you complain about Angry Birds being put on a Nintendo Console. It has been done already.. No, really it has, with a themed version for both 3DS and Wii U. But I think we need to cover what an OS is. According to Oxford Dictionary:
The low-level software that supports a computer’s basic functions, such as scheduling tasks and controlling peripherals.
Well known examples are Android, iOS, Window, OSX and Linux. To be technical, most Modern consoles have their own Operating system. With the Complexity of most gaming and PC hardware the OS is needed to do anything.
“Can Nintendo use Android?”
Yes, they can use it. A large amount of the Android OS is actually Open Source, which means that Nintendo can use it to built software side of their operating system within certain limits, which is detailed in the Android licence.
Nintendo can add their own components to the OS and not allow these components to be open source, subsequently locking the software to their hardware. This is already being done with many cell phones.
This isn’t the first Gaming “OS” to be used in such a way, Valve is currently working on a version of Linux called Steam OS. Unlike Nintendo, Valve doesn’t deal with hardware, and letting customers make their own Steam OS pc. Valve makes their profits via software sales.
“What about real buttons? Text input and Games on the Android and iPhone use onscreen buttons.”
Actually, the G1, also known as the HTC Dream, the first Android Retail Smart phone, it had a QWERTY Keyboard that slid out from under the screen. A few other Android Models following this also had physical keyboards. While later smartphones dropped the built in Keyboard, they didn’t drop the support for keyboards. Bluetooth Keyboards and controllers are supported by both Android systems and Apple’s iOS systems. Actually, quite a few tablet cases have a Bluetooth keyboard built in. Almost all Text input boxes on apps will respond to the bluetooth keyboard commands, as Text input is handled by the OS, not the app.
Today, most games on Android systems just aren’t configured to take commands from a Controller or even a keyboard. Some Games, such as Candy Crush are built to use the touch screen exclusively, some others do indeed use onscreen buttons where they should have supported a controller.
Nintendo has made touch screen only games for both the 3DS and Wii U, with Pokémon Shuffle, and Mario & Donkey Kong Tipping Stars being examples.
“If Nintendo are using Android, it’s going to be a portable system, then?”
No, I’d not lean say it is an certainty for being a Portable System. While Android usually uses mobile processors such as ARM, Android can be made to run on an x86 processors directly. The x86 Processor line is the one that most PCs use and the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 use. So the OS being compatible with a lot things doesn’t actually tell us that the hardware is going to be portable system or not.
There is actually an Android console already on the Market. The Ouya, which appears to be a not selling well.
Nintendo deliberately made sure that the Wii and Wii U did not use much power at all. Android being a Mobile OS requires it run in low power situations.
Android being an Smart Phone OS supports touch screens and both Nintendo’s current Handheld and Home Console systems use them.
I still can’t really decide if which it it’s going to be home console or Handheld device. Android would seem flexible and could be nice fit for both situations.
There is a talk between fans of a Hybrid device that could be used as both a Home console and a Hand held.
“What about the games?”
Well, Android is a currently a well known system that current game developers could easily make Modifications to their games needed to work on Nintendo’s NX system.
Quite a few Developers of the current Humble Nindie Bundle already have their games on Android. I’d don’t see the indies loosing out. For the demanding Games, that’s up to what Nintendo has planned for the NX, But I’m sure that Android OS can cope with it, and with Android’s close association with Linux and the PC, games could be easily made ported to the NX.
Previously, Nintendo has made their games work well on their systems. But this may be new ground, but this could help bring in the much needed large 3rd Party Developers support that Nintendo needs financially.
Personally, I’ve written this article based on an anonymous tip to a well known News site: Nikkei, which wouldn’t dare run this type of news unless the tip was trusted source. But then, I’ve written article on stuff like this on lesser trusted sources.