Rabbit R1 AI Box Revealed To Just Be An Android App

Arva Rangwala

The Rabbit R1, a voice-controlled “AI box” designed to replace smartphones, is one such product that captured the attention of tech enthusiasts and curious consumers alike. However, recent revelations about its underlying technology have cast doubt on its claimed capabilities and raised questions about its viability as a standalone device.

The Rabbit R1: A Puzzling Device

The Rabbit R1 is a bright orange, cube-shaped gadget that promises to break away from the traditional app-based operating systems used by smartphones. It boasts the ability to perform tasks through voice commands, eliminating the need for touch screens and apps. With a price tag of $200, the Rabbit R1 aims to offer a fresh and simplified approach to digital interactions.

The Android Connection

In a surprising twist, tech researcher Mishaal Rahman from Android Authority discovered that the Rabbit R1 is not as revolutionary as it claims to be. After examining the device’s software, Rahman found that the Rabbit R1 runs on a version of Android, the world’s most widely used mobile operating system.

More specifically, the Rabbit R1 utilizes AOSP (Android Open Source Project), which is the open-source codebase of Android without any proprietary Google code. The device’s interface, which primarily consists of a clock, settings screen, and voice input, is essentially an Android app that can be installed and run on any Android smartphone.

Rabbit’s Response: A Defensive Stance

Rabbit Inc., the company behind the Rabbit R1, did not take kindly to Rahman’s findings. In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), the company acknowledged the existence of “unofficial rabbit OS app/website emulators” but warned that these “bootleg APKs” (Android application packages) without “the proper OS and Cloud endpoints won’t be able to access our service.”

Furthermore, Rabbit Inc. described its device as having “very bespoke AOSP and lower-level firmware modifications,” implying that it is more than just a simple Android app. The company also threatened to “reserve all rights for any malicious and illegal cyber security activities towards our services,” suggesting a defensive stance against perceived threats to its intellectual property.

The Rationale Behind Using Android

While Rabbit Inc. may have been reluctant to admit its reliance on Android, the choice to use AOSP is not entirely surprising from a technical standpoint. AOSP is a free and open-source codebase that provides developers with a solid foundation for building mobile devices, managing hardware components, and ensuring power efficiency.

By leveraging AOSP, Rabbit Inc. can tap into a well-established ecosystem and benefit from years of development and optimization without the need to reinvent the wheel. This approach is common among startups and hardware manufacturers seeking to create mobile devices that fall outside the traditional categories of smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches.

The App Framework Dilemma

One of the key decisions facing Rabbit Inc. was whether to utilize the Android app framework, which offers a wide range of features and functionality for developing applications. While the app framework can solve numerous problems and streamline development, it also comes with certain restrictions and requirements.

Google Play, Google’s digital distribution service for Android apps, imposes strict guidelines and qualifications for app compatibility. Devices like the Rabbit R1, which fall outside the traditional categories of smartphones, tablets, or smartwatches, may struggle to meet these requirements seamlessly.

By opting to skip Google Play and its associated proprietary Google code and tracking, Rabbit Inc. gained more flexibility in shaping the user experience without being constrained by app compatibility rules. However, this decision also meant sacrificing access to the vast ecosystem of existing Android apps and services.

The Rabbit R1’s Limitations and Potential

Despite the revelations about its Android underpinnings, the Rabbit R1 has garnered attention for its unique design and attempt to rethink how we interact with digital assistants. However, early reviews and hands-on experiences suggest that the device falls short in justifying its existence as a standalone gadget.

Users have reported that the Rabbit R1 lacks many essential features found in smartphones, such as cameras, phone capabilities, and access to popular apps like calculators and generative AI platforms like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. As a result, users often find themselves reaching for their smartphones to accomplish tasks the Rabbit R1 cannot handle.

While Rabbit Inc. has pushed out software updates to address issues like battery life and music playback, the fundamental limitations of the device remain a concern. Whether the Rabbit R1 can evolve beyond its current state and offer a truly compelling alternative to smartphones remains to be seen.


The Rabbit R1, touted as a “smartphone replacement,” has generated buzz and curiosity in the tech world. However, the recent discoveries about its reliance on Android and the limitations of its current capabilities have raised questions about its viability as a standalone device.

While Rabbit Inc.’s decision to use AOSP and skip Google Play services may have been a strategic choice, it has also exposed the device’s underlying technology and prompted skepticism about its claimed uniqueness. As the Rabbit R1 continues to evolve, it remains to be seen whether the company can deliver on its promise of a truly revolutionary digital experience or whether it will ultimately be remembered as a curious but flawed attempt to disrupt the smartphone market.

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