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Run Android on your iPhone... sort of

Android is Android and iOS is iOS, and never the twain shall meet. They’re entirely separate ecosystems, and the idea of running Android on an iOS device has been little more than a dream – but a strange new device on Kickstarter aims to make it a reality. But as we discover, there are a few major caveats…

Good and evil. Black and white. Cats and dogs. The universe is full of oppositions – but in the tech world, there’s no divide greater than Android and iOS.

For years now, ambitious hackers have tried to get weird and wonderful software running on Apple’s supposedly locked-down devices, most recently turning the Apple Watch into the world’s least user-friendly Game Boy emulator. But the big prize has always been getting Android running on an iPhone – the mobile equivalent of mixing oil and water.

Until now, it’s been an impossible dream. But a new device on Kickstarter, the Eye case by ESTI, promises to make it a reality for those who really crave dual-OS functionality – although as we’ll see, it’s not exactly a flawless implementation.

the Eye: a case of two halves

Okay, spoiler time: if you were hoping to actually install Android on your iPhone and choose between the two operating systems at the push of a button, you’re going to be disappointed.

eye case hand 4_3Instead, the Eye case integrates a standalone Android device – five-inch AMOLED screen and all – directly into a case designed to fit an iPhone 6, 6S or 7. On one side, you’ve got your iPhone, working as normal. Flip it over, and there’s your Android device.

The Android side of things shares the camera, microphone and speaker of the iPhone, but other than that, it’s entirely it’s own thing. It’s got its own battery with wireless charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack and up to 256GB of storage. It takes two SIM cards, and there’s optional 4G support.

In other words, it’s an iPhone case with an entirely separate Android phone built in. So in spite of its lofty ambitions, it’s hardly a revolutionary step forwards. But let’s leave the software wizardry to the hackers – we’re more interested in judging the Eye on its own merits.

Is it any good?

First off, it’s important to say we haven’t actually got our hands on the Eye yet. It’s currently still on Kickstarter – although it’s more than quadrupled its original funding goal, so it is likely to land at some point.

That said, we really struggle to see much practical use for the Eye, at least for the vast majority of users.

The two devices in the Eye case don’t share a file system, screen or really anything except a few hardware features, and to our mind it’s really not that different to just carrying two separate phones with you.

While it might offer a slightly more convenient way to do so, there are drawbacks too: the case is undeniably bulky, and you might actually find it makes better use of your pocket and bag space to keep your devices separate. And if you drop the Eye, you stand a good chance of cracking at least one of the two screens!

There are a few fringe benefits: the case does bring wireless charging to your iPhone, as well as the 3.5mm headphone jack notoriously removed from the iPhone 7 – but you can find these features on other iPhone accessories for a much lower price, without a mid-range Android device bolted on.

In conclusion, then, the Eye strikes us as something of a solution looking for a problem, despite its eye-catching promises. But if you’re taken by its questionable charms, you can back it now on Kickstarter starting at $149, or about £120 after conversion.


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