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Project Sandcastle: Android for the iPhone (projectsandcastle.org)
128 points by homarp 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 32 comments



Note this project is being run under the roof of Corellium, which was in the news recently because Apple is suing them.

I’m really impressed with what this company has achieved and super excited about their products. I hope they beat Apple!


I wonder if this project is in part a hedge against Apple's legal attacks, as in "our tech opened up Apple's locked hardware".


Source code: https://github.com/corellium/projectsandcastle/

The backstory is also incredibly interesting: https://projectsandcastle.org/history


The list of what hardware is supported on what phones is here: https://projectsandcastle.org/status

As of right now, many functions are not available on any device: Bluetooth, camera, cellular, GPU, sound.

The only devices with CPU support are the iPhone 7 and 7+.


And the new iPod Touch, apparently?


Hello,

Yes iPod Touch 7 is part of the first wave of supported devices, and cost compared to other options + it using the same A10 SoC played a role there.

Other devices will be supported soon.


There's no denying the technical side of this is simply incredible. As a user though, my personal (and probably very divisive) preference for the iPhone is exactly because it is _not_ Android. Many companies make very solid phone hardware, I don't think Apple is that far ahead in that regard, if at all. For me, the isolation, privacy controls, and more on iOS are the reason to prefer that over any Android phone. So while I have massive respect for pulling such a technical feat off, I can't help but scratch my head when I see it.


I agree except I don't want android I want one of these mobile gnu linux distros to run on it. There has been very little progress on getting things to work on most android hardware so if these guys beat the linux on android hardware people then that's great. I just want to run plasma mobile on good hardware with support for calls/sms/camera


With Pine Phone and Fxtec Pro finally comming as very suitable platforms for mobile Linux distros I can see some of the work also spilling to support on originally Android devices. Also you can get officially supported Sailfish OS on a range of Sony Xperia devices and Sailfish OS is pretty close to a regular GNU/Linux distro.


Got my PinePhone but it’ll be a while until it’s my daily driver. I’m on iOS for halfway decent privacy and security until real Linux phones are serviceable.

F(x)tec Pro looks amazing, though I am hesitant to buy any phone that ships with Android as the default. I don’t want to fund the Play Services system and I want to know it’ll be supported on the OS I want to use.


Currently, both a buildroot-based Linux distribution (with X11 of course) and an Android one are provided.


Fascinating! I recently switched to an iPhone from 8 years of Android and the iPhone hardware is amazing but I kind of hate iOS. I have reasons:

Siri can’t do basic tasks like turn on flashlight or wifi hotpot.

Voice recognition quality is much less accurate than Google's.

App store has poor search and filtering options.

App store fails to install apps and does not show errors.

Swipe typing is inaccurate compared to android. Gboard exists for iOS but it is clunky: it pops you out of your current app frequently and sometimes the default iOS keyboard reverts, despite Gboard being set to default.

No live wallpapers — boo! They’re fun. (iOS has them but they are video files, not apps.)

No equivalent to Smart Lock on android where the device stays unlocked when you're at home or when it detects you are carrying your device. Face ID, therefore, needs to be used super frequently as a result, which doesn't work well at funny angles or with the device in horizontal mode.

Possible bug: Battery won’t charge past 80% even when Optimized Battery Charging is disabled. My device has literally never reached 100% despite trying.

Safari is the unchangeable device default and I find it awkward to use with many tabs.

I'm just one user, but I was shocked to learn how good I actually had it on Android (Pixel 3 series.) I thought the grass was greener on the iOS side but it wasn't a clear winner.

I am totally on the fence as to whether to keep it. I love the privacy focus that iOS has but dislike the restrictiveness and features that make the device slower to use. (The smart lock is a huge deal to me...)


Siri can’t do basic tasks like turn on flashlight or wifi hotpot.

Yes it can. I just did it “turn on the flashlight”.

It won’t turn on the hotspot, but, if you have another iOS device or Mac within range, you can connect to one and it will turn it on automatically.

As far as your battery not going past 80%, why wouldn’t you take it to an Apple store for repair?


I stand corrected about the flashlight. I also am pleased to learn in some sense the hotspot is always available.

I think I will get the 80% battery checked out ! Thanks.


> swipe typing is inaccurate compared to android

A couple of years ago, microsoft made a keyboard for ios called wordflow. It had better accuracy than any other keyboard I've tried. Sadly they removed it not long after; I still use it, but I don't think it's possible to download it if you haven't already.


> Siri can’t do basic tasks like turn on flashlight or wifi hotpot.

It can do both of those things.


I think it is an amazing news personnally. Apple make really good hardware, with raisonnable sized phone. they are overpriced yes, but you can find those older generations at descent prices, refurbished or second hand. I really like to tinker with my phones though (all my androids are degoogled with custom roms and microG), that's why i'll never buy an iphone with IOs. To the point that I bought a second hand Google Pixel 2 (good hardware, raisonnable price) that I won't use because its bootloader is locked which means that I can't install custom roms on it... (good work Google...)

To each his own I guess !


I’m thinking about a desk drawer full of iPhone 4s that would make amazing little pocket *nix terminals or used in robotics and nonsense… there are a lot of uses for this project that have little do with "smartphones."


As far as I know, there are no plans to support 32-bit devices in the foreseeable future.


That’s very unfortunate. Recycling old devices was the first thing I thought of with this.

The environmental impact of that alone would be more than enough reason to make that a priority.


Well, by all accounts, Apple’s processors are at least two years ahead of Android.


I’m confused as to how this works.. this is something you install to replace iOS (and if so, how.. a jailbreak like mechanism)? Or is this an OS inside of an app?


Sandcastle is using the checkm8[0] unpatchable bootrom exploit to allow running unsigned secureROM arbitrary code with help from alloc8[1]. They then load a modified pongoOS[2] to get device tree and load their modified AOSP[3] from what I can tell.

[0] https://github.com/axi0mX/ipwndfu [1] https://github.com/axi0mX/alloc8 [2] https://github.com/checkra1n/pongoOS [3] https://github.com/corellium/projectsandcastle


What does alloc8 (for iPhone 3GS) have to do with this? Also, what are their modifications to pongoOS and why do they need them?


Hello,

Upstream pongoOS is used for this AFAIK, without further changes needed.

However, the FDT from Apple device tree generator is currently basic and not really ready for anything other than FB + display, so a custom device tree is provided in the Sandcastle distribution.


Not replace, rather, you boot Linux over USB. That is why they describe the ephemeral device use case.


Yes, because of an unpatchable boot rom exploit.


Yes, it replaces iOS using a jailbreak.


I’m curious why they chose iPhone 7 as the device to start with; iPhone 6 would have saved them the page size issues since it uses 4K pages.


Probably had a recently retired iPhone 7 to use instead of their daily driver.


I would be extremely surprised if Corellium didn't have a dozen of every iPhone model hanging around ;)


Fortinet Web Filtering at my work has blocked this page under the category of "Hacking" :(

I just submitted a re-evaluation and it was updated to... the hacking category

---

Web Page Blocked!

You have tried to access a web page which is in violation of your internet usage policy.

URL: https://projectsandcastle.org/ Category: Hacking




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