Clever trick lets iPhone 5s run next version of Android

Android L on the iPhone 5s. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Android L on the iPhone 5s. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Android

Here’s one way to put your iPhone 5s to good use after upgrading to the iPhone 6: Install the Android L Developer Preview. It sounds like an impossibility given Apple’s incredibly tight control over device security, but a small group of university researchers have managed it using a clever workaround. You’ll find proof in the short demonstration video below.

Combining Apple’s stunning hardware with Google’s open Android operating system and all of the benefits that come with it would produce the ideal smartphone for so many. But it’s a dream that will likely never become a practical reality, despite the accomplishments of a few talented developers who have been able to install Android on an iPhone over the years.

In the video below, Mike Huang, a researcher at the University of Michigan, briefly demonstrates the Android L Developer Preview running on the iPhone 5s. It’s not quite as smooth as you might expect given the device’s 64-bit A7 processor, but that’s because of the way in which the whole trick works.

You see, the iPhone 5s doesn’t have Android L’s system files stored locally because of the difficulties in installing Android on unsupported hardware. Instead, it accesses them via a remote server — in much the same way your PC accesses remote files when you stream a game through a platform like OnLive.

While impressive, then, this setup is really only for fun. It’s too slow to use regularly, and because of its reliance on a remote server, it would be unusable without a data connection.