Skip to main content

Corellium's made it possible to run Android on your iPhone but Apple isn't going to like it

iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Correllium has found a way to run Android on iPhones.
  • It only works on some iPhones.
  • Apple's likely to be less than pleased with the development.

Cybersecurity startup Correllium has found a way to run Android on some iPhones, and it's making it available to anyone who wants to try it. Apple isn't going to be best pleased with the development, and it's already locked in a court battle with the company.

Correllium is calling the whole thing Project Sandcastle, apparently as a dig at Apple's sandboxing efforts. It lives at projectsandcastle.org, and that's where you can go to find out tons more information. But Forbes has already taken it for a spin.

According to the report, Corellium is simply trying to unlock Apple's hardware so as to allow users to do what we want with it. Corellium CEO Amanda Gorton told Forbes that Project Sandcastle is about "having fun building something new from the sand — from the literal silicon of the hardware".

"Apple restricts iPhone users to operate inside a sandbox, but users own that hardware, and they should be able to use that hardware the way they want. So where sandboxes create limits and boundaries on the hardware that users own, sandcastles provide an opportunity to create something new and wonderful from the limitless bounds of your imagination."

The hack uses the popular checkra1n jailbreak as its jumping-off point, which in turn means it will only work with specific devices. Apple's latest iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are out, for example.

The hack is currently limited to a handful of devices: the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and the iPod Touch, but Chris Wade, cofounder of Corellium, says more support is coming. And it may not ever work on any iPhones older than the 5S or newer than the X. That's because the hack uses the checkra1n jailbreak to launch, which won't work on the 11 model or above. If a new jailbreak is found, however, it could be possible Android for iPhone will work on the most recent Apple devices. And given the underlying vulnerabilities exploited by checkra1n probably won't ever be fixed by Apple, it should work in perpetuity for relevant devices.

This isn't the first time that Apple and Corellium have locked swords. The iPhone maker accuses Corellium of selling iPhone replicas in the form of "virtual iPhone devices" that people can then use as a way to find further exploits. This latest move isn't one that will calm the tensions between the two companies.

Not that Corellium seems to care. David Wang, co-founder of the company, hopes that this will push others to build on the work that has already been done.

Wang says he's excited to see what the community does with the team's work. "Even old devices could potentially be recycled without the issue of being locked to another user's iCloud account or risking someone else's data. We're excited to see where the community takes it. We hope that it helps inspire other developers to keep pushing the mobile ecosystem forward."

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

1 Comment
  • "A decade ago, our co-founders ported Android to the original iPhone. Find out how we tackled the challenge of porting Android today." I remember the time they did it before, it was more a proof of concept at the time, it was really slow and had no power management so your phone wouldn't last very long. But I'd like to see them really work on this version, I always find stuff like this interesting