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Rabbit R1, a thing that should just be an app, actually is just an Android app (Updated)

The Rabbit R1 is probably running Android and is certainly powered by an Android app under the hood.

Published onMay 1, 2024

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority
  • The Rabbit R1 is an AI-powered, handheld gadget that seems to run Android under the hood.
  • Many reviewers have criticized the utility of AI gadgets like the Rabbit R1, noting that they do little to supplant the smartphone and should just be an app instead.
  • In fact, the R1’s entire UI seems to be handled by a single Android app.

Update: May 1, 2024 (1:01 AM ET): Rabbit has reached out to Android Authority with a statement from its founder and CEO, Jesse Lyu. The statement argues that the R1’s interface is not an app. The company explains that the LLM it uses runs on the cloud, which is something we never questioned. We’ll be following up with another article diving deeper into the subject soon. Until then, you can read Rabbit’s complete statement below.

“rabbit r1 is not an Android app. We are aware there are some unofficial rabbit OS app/website emulators out there. We understand the passion that people have to get a taste of our AI and LAM instead of waiting for their r1 to arrive. That being said, to clear any misunderstanding and set the record straight, rabbit OS and LAM run on the cloud with very bespoke AOSP and lower level firmware modifications, therefore a local bootleg APK without the proper OS and Cloud endpoints won’t be able to access our service. rabbit OS is customized for r1 and we do not support third-party clients. Using a bootlegged APK or webclient carries significant risks; malicious actors are known to publish bootlegged apps that steal your data. For this reason, we recommend that users avoid these bootlegged rabbit OS apps.”

Original article: April 30, 2024 (5:07 PM ET): When startups like Humane and Rabbit first unveiled their AI-powered gadgets a couple of months ago, early backers were hopeful that these AI companions would usher in a new era of wearable AI. Unfortunately for them, both products launched half-baked, leaving tech reviewers with no choice but to harshly criticize them.

The Rabbit R1, for example, does almost nothing that your Android phone can’t do. In our hands-on, we noted that the gadget lets you do things like talk to a large language model (LLM) to get answers to questions, take a photo of an object to get info about it, play music from Spotify, hail a ride from Uber, or order food from Doordash, but that’s basically it. If everything an AI gadget like the Rabbit R1 can do can be replicated by an Android app, then why aren’t these companies simply releasing an app instead of hardware that costs hundreds of dollars, requires a separate mobile data plan to be useful, and has terrible battery life? It turns out that’s exactly what Rabbit has done…sort of.

See, it turns out that the Rabbit R1 seems to run Android under the hood and the entire interface users interact with is powered by a single Android app. A tipster shared the Rabbit R1’s launcher APK with us, and with a bit of tinkering, we managed to install it on an Android phone, specifically a Pixel 6a.

Once installed, we were able to set up our Android phone as if it were a Rabbit R1. The volume up key on our phone corresponds to the Rabbit R1’s hardware key, allowing us to proceed through the setup wizard, create a “rabbithole” account, and start talking to the AI assistant. Since the Rabbit R1 has a significantly smaller and lower resolution display than the Pixel 6a, the home screen interface only took up a tiny portion of the phone’s display. Still, we were able to fire off a question to the AI assistant as if we were using actual Rabbit R1 hardware, as you can see in the video embedded below.

We didn’t bother testing out any other functionality, such as Spotify integration, Vision, etc., but we wouldn’t be surprised if some of them didn’t work. After all, the Rabbit R1’s launcher app is intended to be preinstalled in the firmware and be granted several privileged, system-level permissions — only some of which we were able to grant — so some of the functions would likely fail if we tried. Still, the fact that this app works at all on my phone is hilarious and is a testament to the fact that, at their core, a lot of these niche hardware products run on a modified version of AOSP.

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