BlackBerry PlayBook Can Virtually Use Android Apps

By March 25, 2011
BlackBerry PlayBook

RIM announced Android app support for its new tablet. But dubious porting practices are already being predicted when it comes to performance and compatibility.

BlackBerry-creator Research in Motion will launch an enterprise-minded tablet this year, and hopes to give customers a richer experience with support of Android applications. Touted as the "world's first professional-grade tablet," the PlayBook will have a music store and access to the BlackBerry App World. But the announcement that it will support software designed originally for Google's mobile operating system is gathering much attention.

RIM hopes to market the PlayBook in part by making customers aware of the huge number of Android apps they can access on the device. Instead of being recoded, the apps will run in virtual environments within the BlackBerry operating system. These app players and the Android apps will be optional downloads from the BB App World - PlayBook customers will not have access to the full Android App Market.  "Developers will simply repackage, code sign and submit their BlackBerry Java and Android apps to BlackBerry App World," RIM clarifies in Phandroid's documentation.

But there is some concern that this strategy is more a marketing ploy than a fully-supported technical move of substance. Apps designed for Android 2.3 and earlier will be available, but not those for tablet-optimized Android 3.0, also known as Honeycomb. Silicon Alley Insider worries that these phone-intended apps will be stretched to unpleasant resolutions to fit on the larger PlayBook screen, and that "games and other resource-heavy apps will want to be coded specifically for the PlayBook using RIM's QNX platform and SDK." In other words, heftier apps may work better if they are not simply ported to the app player, but actually coded for the BlackBerry platform.

The BlackBerry PlayBook will follow the same pricing structure as the iPad 2, with the base 16GB model priced at $499. So far for announced distributors, the device will be available for purchase at BestBuy.

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