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The Rabbit R1 is hiding a big secret

The Rabbit R1 standing upright on a wooden railing with its display turned on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

“This is supposed to be a simpler companion to my phone, yet the R1 often tells me to use my phone when asking it to do the most basic of tasks,” wrote Digital Trends’ Section Editor Joe Maring after taking the Rabbit R1 out for a spin. The biggest flaw here is not a slow interface or lack of functions, but what it adds to an average user’s life on a day-to-day basis.

At this stage, it’s not much, primarily because a budget Android phone can do the same tasks with apps — be it AI chores like summarizing an email chain or ordering a burger. “This could’ve been an AI app at best.” That’s a recurring theme in the online forums about the R1. And it seems the R1 itself proves that point.

The Rabbit R1’s Android secret

Someone holding the Rabbit R1, with the device showing the weather forecast.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Android expert Mishal Rahman got his hands on the APK file of a launcher, which allowed him to run the R1’s software on a Google Pixel 6a. In the most fundamental terms, an APK is all the code that makes an Android app. A launcher is essentially a segment of the software that controls how a phone’s home screen and app drawer system look and work.

In the R1’s case, the situation is a bit confusing. As Rahman explains on Android Authority, the Rabbit R1 runs what can essentially be called a launcher based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Notably, Rabbit’s research overview doesn’t mention AOSP or its Android affiliations. It was only after Rahman’s story broke that Rabbit confirmed R1’s software is built on AOSP, the core framework behind Android. In simpler terms, the R1’s software is essentially just an Android app.

The company has repeatedly stressed that the AI gadget runs on Rabbit OS, which is based on a Large Action Model (LAM). It is a type of foundation model that is trained to perform certain tasks, like turning touch and voice inputs into an activity and responding accordingly. In the R1’s case, all that happens in the cloud, similar to how AI tools like ChatGPT take your text input, run it through the cloud, and then give back a response.

with all the respect – while most of the non iOS consumer devices runs on modified AOSP as client, i don't think you understand that client apk can be duplicated and bootlegged while all the actual service lives on the cloud? and why that bootleg apk is not working? try now. https://t.co/tZJd96AbWv

— Jesse Lyu (@jessechenglyu) May 1, 2024

Interestingly, the device on which Rahman installed the APK package got blocked, either using the IP address or a device identifier, an event that was confirmed by the company’s CEO, Jesse Lyu.

“Rabbit OS and LAM run on the cloud with very bespoke AOSP and lower-level firmware modifications,” the company said in an official statement. In addition to confirming the AOSP foundations, the company has also clarified that it’s aware of “unofficial rabbit OS app/website emulators” being out there, and that such bootlegged APK files won’t allow access to the rabbit OS systems.

A few curious things

The Rabbit R1 laying on a wooden railing, showing the front of the device.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Notably, someone allegedly dumped the source code of Rabbit R1, according to this Hacker News forum discussion, but the linked GitHub resources have since been pulled. A YouTube handle by the name Arthur (@chainedtears) shared a video in which a supposedly jailbroken R1 was seen running Android versions of Discord and Minecraft, but it has since been removed.

Ok so people already cracked the rabbit R1 and found out its android. People dumped the apk and i got it working (with root and a few mods) on a standard ass phone lmaoo pic.twitter.com/QMnGohgbeF

— Marcel (@MarcelD505) April 30, 2024

Another post that has now been deleted from Reddit has someone running the popular game Doom on the Rabbit R1. One person with access to the APK tells Digital Trends that it was decompiled and run on the official Android emulator. This is the tool that Google offers to developers for testing their Android apps prior to wide deployment.

pic.twitter.com/xC8hB9c6DQ

— Jade (@noteuclaise) April 30, 2024

One Reddit post, again from a deleted account, claims to have run Rabbit OS on a desktop. Digital Trends can also confirm that copies of the APK and a few instructions on the workaround were passed around via Reddit communication. Another individual, who wishes not to be identified, told us that Rabbit’s team was aware of the APKs floating around for a few days now.

As a security measure, Rabbit has now started verifying International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers to confirm the hardware keys and has even started making adjustments to the cloud endpoint terminals via software patches. Without the cloud endpoints, it likely won’t be possible to access the LAM on any unlicensed hardware.

Someone holding the Rabbit R1 with its screen turned on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

It seems the Rabbit R1 is essentially booting two Android app instances, one that handles the system updater function and the other one that is behind the launcher interface. As such, it looks like the R1 is acting more like a piece of hardware to run what’s essentially an Android app, while all the bespoke AI-driven tasks happen in the cloud where the LAM lives.

What makes this so ironic is that, despite Rabbit touting Rabbit OS as a new, original operating system, it really doesn’t do anything we haven’t seen before. It can look up the weather, check stock prices, perform internet searches, etc. It’s all stuff you could say, “Why don’t you just use an app for that,” and now, it seems like that’s all Rabbit OS really is.

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Nadeem Sarwar
Nadeem is a tech journalist who started reading about cool smartphone tech out of curiosity and soon started writing…
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