Is Rabbit R1 just an Android app running on generic Android hardware?

The Rabbit R1, like the Humane AI Pin not long before it, launched to rough reviews. Though the portable AI assistant gadget is more attractive than Humane's, thanks to its Teenage Engineering-designed hardware and adorable mono aesthetic, it is reportedly even less useful. Tech guys were furious at reviewers for not seeing the potential, but that only brought further scrutiny to the reality—and it looks very much like Rabbit R1 could have been an app. Even the gadget is not as "bespoke" as claimed, reports Android Authority.

During our research, Android Authority was also able to obtain a copy of the Rabbit R1's firmware. Our analysis reveals that Rabbit did not make significant modifications to the BSP (Board Support Package) provided by MediaTek. The R1, in fact, still ships with all the standard apps included in AOSP [Android Open Source Porjkect], as well as the many apps provided by MediaTek. This is despite the fact that none of these apps are needed nor ever shown to the user, obviously. Rabbit only made a few changes to the AOSP build that MediaTek provided them, such as adding the aforementioned R1 launcher app, adding a fork of the open-source "AnySoftKeyboard" app with a custom theme, adding an OTA updater app, and adding a custom boot animation.

These findings directly contradict some of the key points that Rabbit made in the statement they shared with Android Authority earlier this week. The statement, which we've reproduced below, suggests that our initial report was based on the use of an "unofficial rabbit OS app/website emulator," as well as a "bootlegged APK or webclient." This is false, as we were able to verify that our copy of the R1 launcher APK came from a genuine R1 device. The statement also says that because "rabbit OS and LAM run on the cloud with very bespoke AOSP and lower level firmware modifications," that a "local bootleg APK without the proper OS and Cloud endpoints won't be able to access [its] service." The founder and CEO even took to Twitter in an attempt to taunt us about "why that bootleg apk is not working," but given that we recorded this hands-on demo yesterday, it's clear that a "local bootleg APK" does, in fact, work.

Rabbit CEO denied everything—"rabbit r1 is not an Android app."—but few seem to be taking him at his word.

That said, allow me to zig where others are zagging! I think that there is enormous value in the specific hardware-and-software implementation of a user experience. The problem is not that Rabbit R1 is just an Android app in a box. The problem is that it's crap.