Inside App World: An Android developer's perspective

PlayBook Android
By Jared DiPane on 29 Feb 2012 11:02 pm EST

Many have been rather skeptical about the whole Android Player aspect of the recent BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 update that recently rolled out. While some thought it wouldn't be worth their time to take a few minutes to convert their Android application to the BlackBerry PlayBook, others took the risk and went for it. Could it really be beneficial to developers to use the tools RIM provided for them to convert their Android APK into the appropriate bar file and submit it through BlackBerry App World for us to be able to download?

Well, one developer who took the risk took to their blog to let us know about the experience they had after porting their application to the BlackBerry PlayBook. Neil Burlock, the developer behind Solar system Explorer had some pretty awesome results that he shared, which lead us to believe there are probably others out there with similar stories. In just 36 hours of being in BlackBerry App World the application sold over 150 copies.

Sure, you may be thinking that isn't a ton of copies sold but it took roughly 10 months in the Android market to reach the same number of sales. The developer did code the application using Shiva which is compatible with several platforms, but it was not compiled against the specific BlackBerry PlayBook code. Even without the use of native code, the developer is still getting great reviews on the performance of the application on the PlayBook.

Hopefully more success stories of Android developers will continue to surface, and we will continue to see Android developers as well as BlackBerry developers standing behind the product. What would be even better to see is these developers who understand that their applications can be successful on the BlackBerry platform begin to use native BlackBerry code to develop instead of only porting.

More information and to purchase Solar System Explorer

Jared DiPane Jared DiPane "News Writer for Mobile Nations
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Reader comments

Inside App World: An Android developer's perspective


Easy Peasy!
I think we'll be seeing a very nice app portfolio by the time BB10 phones are released later this year.

SMH. Reading most of the comments here, the common theme is; he sold more in BB World because BB users pay for their apps and Android users don't. Way to generalize there buddies. I own both a Playbook and a Xoom. The truth is; he is did not sell as much in Android because HE IS NOT BEST IN CLASS. When you have a thriving market, like Android and IOS do, you don't settle. You have your pick. You pick the best out there. BB users are just happy to get anything.

A little research will show you that there is a free version of this app in Android. People are still not breaking doors to get it. Why? IT IS NOT BEST IN CLASS.

Hopefully, the market will evolve for AppWorld. This excitement over B level apps is laughable.

"BB users are just happy to get anything."
Way to generalize there buddy! I own a playbook and I don't settle for just any old thing.


Great to see this developer's app getting a mention on the front page! I bought it after I came across a thread on the forums and it really is great. Eagerly waiting for his next app Exo Planet Explorer to hit App World.

I just happened to download and play around with this app tonight before checking things out on Crackberry and seeing this post. It is indeed a fine app that I plan to use in my Grade 9 Science class through an LCD projector to present the solar system info in a fun interesting way that the kids can play around with. Thanks Neil!

This is a pure guess but I would assume you would need to know some Java...beyond that I bet youtube would be a good start...

And Java would only be one if you're creating Android apps and then porting them over...

I am already planning og studying C++.

Native apps are written in C/C++ or,
you can code in HTML5 which is really easy to learn, and probably the best for beginners.

The thing I don't think developers on other platforms realize is that people who own Android and/or Apple are your everyday 12-25 year old who isn't going to PAY $$$ for anything...MOST people who use Blackberry, especially the PlayBook are business men and those who are willing to pay a few bucks for a decent app. We understand that if we want things to work well and have great support for a long time to come WITHOUT ANNOYING ADDS that you have to pay for it.

Lets see some more posts like this guys, I hope to read this on the Android Blog too!!!

Couldn't agree with you more, but keep in mind that the user demographic changes across the globe.

Here in Saudi Arabia, though we have a lot of professionals using BB, there is a larger number of t(w)eens who love the BBM for its free messaging and the anonymity a PIN provides. I'm sure South-east Asia has similar trend of BBs being popular with the young folk.

Sorry to say but personnally I just buy natives apps, I'm not saying that ported Android apps are not good, just want to encourage Playbook developpers.

thats impossible to say. theres no way to know how the app is built before you download it. and as long as it works as advertised, who cares how its made?

In many cases, there is one way to tell if its an Android app...look at the screen shots in App world. If they where captured on the Playbook you can often tell if they're Android. No guaranteed way though.

Edit...nevermind...I see you said similar below

RIM makes sure not to approve an app unless it has removed all signs of Android.

Unless the app is submited by Handster or the screen shots show any Android characteristics, there is a very good chance people will download the app and expect it to be native.

Do notice that not every app will fall into the mentioned characteristics. So no, not a moron...

Most of the time you can tell from the screenshots if its an android app or not. You can also get a good sense of it from the developer with minimal research. Either way, if they port Android or code for PB, they are still PB developers that will get my money if they provide a good app.

If you follow the link to the developer's blog, the developer had mentioned specifically that "Solar Explorer isn’t really an Android port, it’s actually been recompiled into native code for the Playbook".

which totally makes my point you never know. the only ways iv seen to tell android apps are the screencaps `sometimes` feature the android notification bar, and obv ones from handster. other than that it IS impossible to tell. just like it is to tell a webworks from flash from NDK stuff.

as you say this is actually a native PB app in the sense that it was built in Shiva3D which now supports the PB, so its simply a case of exporting to the PB runtime. its not a converted .apk file.

If you're right I appologise for this developer.

But I dont change my position about ported/native apps.

P.S.When you need to know something, forums are there for that.

If you look at the date in that picture it shows its from January. Looks like thats what you saw when you rooted your PlayBook on the Beta OS2. Just a guess though.

Now that Dev has found that he can make in 36 hours with BB what he makes in 10 months with Android, I bet his next App will be developed for Native PB...& he's probably thinking of recompiling his current app in Shiva so it's now Native & works even better on PB.

These are the kinda stories RIM was betting on with the Android Player....Show these App Devs that BB users are not 15 year old kids, or unemployed hippies who don't pay for apps.

So, I wonder why I can't download this now? I have 2.0 on my PB. I'm getting a message that says this app is not compatible with my device.

I think the post should be read carefully. I think it says the 36 hours performance on Playbook is better than any single day in a 10 month period on Android. Not saying that 36 hours beat the cumulative 10 month performance.

Also, I love this little tidbit:
"... I’ve been told by Stonetrip, the company that makes Shiva, that in their testing the Playbook significantly outperforms the Galaxy Tab, despite them being so similar [hardware-wise] ..."

I think the post says exactly what it says:
In app world there where 150 downloads/purchases in 36 hours which took 10 month to reach on Android.

Read it again. EFats is almost exactly right (The comparison was not to 150 sales in 36 hours, but to over 100 sales in 24 hours on the PB versus a best of 45 sales in 24 hours in the Android Market.), and the article is exactly wrong.

The developer continues "[I]t’s ... a stunning result to see it sell more than twice the copies on it’s (sic) first full day on App World, compared to it’s (sic) best day on Android Market."

All in all, pretty sweet. (And bonus points to the dev for using "than" correctly when posting on the Internet.)

There is no Android app section in appworld so does anyone know how to tell witch apps are Android apps? Or is this intentionaly hidden to make Appworld seem more unified.

Sometimes you can tell by the name of the developer/publisher of the app BUT otherwise you don't know until you download and run it. The start screen of a native app vs Android/Dalvik runtime is completely different...

What matters for me is having a great, working, fast app or game not forgetting spyware and adware free.

I saw today that 22% of all paid appworld downloads were PlayBook downloads. WTF that's amazing.
Remember the numbers are close to 75 million phones, 1.5 million PBs. This sets up BB10 quite nicely!

That's great. I've had a BlackBerry for 3-4 yrs now and I rarely buy any apps for my phones. I basically saw them as crapware. But since I got my PlayBook, I have easily spent more money on PlayBook apps than I've ever spent phone apps. If BB10 works like my PlayBook, I'm not going to have so many reservations about app purchases on my phone.

Its a great app. Very educational. From my point of view, we should support developers that produce good functional apps usable on the Playbook. Perhaps more developers will follow. Like it or not, $1.99 is a cheap price for support of our chosen tablet!!

I say it's either devs do not know they have an easy way to add their app to a new market, or that some are simply arrogant and disbelieve in the future of BlackBerry thus don't take it seriously. Either case, it's a shame. There are some really great apps and games out there, and they don't have to re-code squat to boost their sales in a whole other marketplace. Maybe with some more time they'll figure out that the PB is simply wonderful in all regards.

I particularly like this little shooter......."I’ve been told by Stonetrip, the company that makes Shiva, that in their testing the Playbook significantly outperforms the Galaxy Tab, despite them being so similar.".....just sayin

I'm Neil Burlock, the author of Solar Explorer and I wanted to thank everyone for the support, all the comments on my blog, and especially CrackBerry for writing up the article.

I have sold more than 150 copies of the app on Android Market over the last 10 months (about 3,500), but I've not seen a single day on Android Market that's even remotely comparable to the level of interest I've seen from Playbook users today.

Even the first day that it was listed on AppWorld was multiple times better than the best ever day on Android market.

The app is native Playbook code, not an Android port. Stonetrip, the creator of Shiva (what the app is written with) added Playbook support to the development environment in January, a couple of weeks before RIM ran the Playbook promo that convinced me to take the plunge.

Thanks again from this soon to be Playbook owner :)

awsome story! I hope you share your experience with other devs and help the PlayBook reach it's potential.

Your app is smooth there's no lag. From my experience it goes between 45 to 90 fps. Mirroring to a hdtv does not slow down the app. Great job. Overall it seems very optimized.

Let's hear it for the mutual support of the developers and the BB Playbook community.
This is what builds ecosystems.

@Neil B.,
Welcome to the BB community. Whatever you were in the past, you are now also a native PLAYBOOK DEVELOPER. I like the sound of that!

Oh I read the article wrong. Neil you have a great app keep it
Up. Hope to see some more apps from you in the future. 1.99 is
A great price point for your app.

I used this app on my friends playbook its amazing. I hope this developer comes out with more apps for playbook they will be amazing.

Not really sure what Android developers are waiting for. Repack and submit to Blackberry, and chances are you'll have much more exposure than the over crowded Markets out there already.

I mean, the App World isn't going to stay small forever, so why not take advantage of the fact that if you release a quality app, you're pretty much guaranteed an audience.

Thanks for supporting the Playbook. I just purchased your app to show my support back. Hopefully you can spread the good word to other Android app devs. You can see how passionate us PB users are and how appreciative we are of quality apps.

I would say PB is not for the fainthearted, those who are willing to fork out money for a PB, they will definitely pay for quality apps. I think android player is here to encourage developers to develop apps for PB. Why I didn't buy an Android tablet is because hardware and OS is always not on par and its' over price. Apple on the other hand, is a nice device with lots of apps but I don't like the UI and size. PB... I've never stop stroking it since the day i bought it and it fits into my pocket nicely.

Just bought the app after reading this article. My kid is still a little young to understand, but he liked the colors & I enjoyed all the facts you have gathered. Have yet to purchase the hdmi cable, once I have that, this will look sweet on the big-screen tv. Love the 3D effects and being able to move about. Hope you can continue your app development for the PlayBook.

Ready & willing to support PB app developers!