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To build or to port? A developer's thoughts about the Android App Player on BlackBerry

Android App Player
By Shao128 on 24 Oct 2011 01:41 pm EDT
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Back in March of this year when RIM announced the Android player for PlayBook, my first thought was awesome! We were going to get the best of both worlds, we'd be able to run apps from two of the great software platforms out there. When the leaked version made its way to the internet a couple months ago and I had some actual hands on experience my feelings became a little bit more mixed. Being a leaked beta I tried my best to hold off judgment until something was released officially by RIM. The leaked beta was slow and required launching the app player then launching apps within it, not to mention app compatibility was fairly low, but it did show some promise.

Fast forward to DevCon 2011 this past week and the PlayBook OS 2.0 Developer Beta with Android support. Immediately the changes were noticeable. No longer did we need to launch the separate Android player, it was built right into the QNX OS and Android apps would display as regular icons on the home screen. The first thing I did was hit up the forums and start side loading BAR files that other users had converted from Android apps. Some apps such as Kindle worked great, and others, well... not so much.

RIM claims 70% of Android apps should work in the app player, but from my personal experience it seems to be more along the lines of 50%, possibly even less due to some features in certain apps failing to function. Looking over the unsupported Android features listed on the RIM developer site there is still a lot of work to be done on their end. Granted that is still a beta I was hoping for a little more. The positive side to this is that RIM has released a tool that can check an app and specifically pin point which functions/APIs an app is using that are not supported so that the developer can make adjustments and then package up a new release and submit it to AppWorld. During a Q&A session at DevCon RIM did note that while more APIs are on the list to be supported, some will intentionally not be supported, for "business reasons."

Once OS 2.0 is officially released to the public users will then be able to go into AppWorld and download Android apps that have been submitted by the developer and run them seamlessly just like any other app developed for the PlayBook, or at least that is what RIM would like us to think. The more time I spend with the Android player the more I see potential for confusion and a poor user experience. Lets take the User Interface (UI) for example. Currently the most popular choice for developing on the PlayBook is the Adobe Air platform, the screen shot below is a typical settings screen that many will be able to recognize right away. It uses built-in QNX controls (ie buttons, text boxes, sliders etc).

Android App

Now lets take a look at a typical Android apps settings screen: 

Android App

What I'm trying to illustrate here is the inconsistency that users will immediately notice due to UI differences. On top of this apps developed using the NDK using UI elements from QT or Cascades for example will look completely different as well. This creates a fragmented user experience which ultimately diminishes the overall experience of using the PlayBook. To give credit to where it is due Apple does a great job of ensuring a consistent experience for all apps in its store, they have strict user interface guidelines that apps must adhere to in order be be accepted into the App Store. RIM has taken some steps towards some uniformity in aspects such as bezel gestures, swiping down brings up the menu in Android apps, as well as Android notifications using the built in notification system, but is that really enough? Hopefully they have a few more tricks up their sleeves for the future.

Looking at the Android app player from a developer perspective has been another interesting topic of much debate in speaking with other developers. With RIM officially confirming at DevCon that the BlackBerry Java app player is now canceled and current BlackBerry apps will not work on the new BBX platform many developers, including myself, are looking towards the future and trying to decide which road to take for development. Once suggestion that has quite commonly been voiced is the "kill 2 birds with 1 stone" and develop now for Android and then package it up for BlackBerry afterward. This saves development time and costs and allows developers to reach 2 platforms at the same time. We asked RIM about their thoughts on this and their answer seemed somewhat contradictory. Their response was that it would not be as good as an app developed natively for BBX. That made me ask the question to myself "Then why are they even doing the Android player to begin with?," but I'll cover that a little later in this post. Now lets say I was a developer who has currently never supported the BlackBerry platform but I have an Android app, I can reach a whole new audience and maybe make a few extra bucks without much work, great! RIM is looking at this as an opportunity to attract new developers to the platform, their belief is that if Android developers start seeing success on BlackBerry that they will then create native BlackBerry apps. The other side of the coin is that instead of developers who would have originally thought about writing a native version of their apps for BBX will now just port over their Android apps and call it a day, which ultimately it's the consumer that loses out.

So in the end was the Android player the right decision for RIM? Only time will tell. My personal thoughts... This seems to be a short term solution for a long term problem. For years RIM rested on their laurels doing very little to woo new developers or even keep their existing ones happy and it finally caught up with them and the Android solution seems to be more about getting some quick positive publicity rather than solving the real problem. With the release of the PlayBook OS 2.0 we will see an immediate influx of new apps (quality aside), but the long-term problem of attracting developers to the BlackBerry platform is what RIM really should have been focusing on all along. As Kevin said in the DevCon Wrap Up podcast, if RIM could have gone back in time knowing what they know now they probably wouldn't have done the Android app player at all. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Reader comments

To build or to port? A developer's thoughts about the Android App Player on BlackBerry

77 Comments

First! Great update. I was wondering if 32GB is going to be the minimum to run everything. I've noticed 16GB is minimal at best...

I think its going to be the tablet that is everything to everyone that will come out ahead. Is that what I want? No, I just want the playbook to do what it was supposed to do from the beginning. That would make me very happy. Right now Im happy enough. The tablet that users can pretend is and android, or qnx or ios or whatever, even if it doesnt do it very well, will be the sausage most grabby-gimee-Iwanitnow customers will buy.

The Android app player on the PlayBook is lame IMO. People are applauding RIM for having done but I'll be damned if I can figure out why. Instead of doing something themselves to go ahead and correct the situation, they adopted Android, and not only that -- they adopted it poorly.

Half the apps you want to use don't work as intended.
Beta or not, RIM won't allow Android to run as it should on the PlayBook and as such they've just hindered their own platform by setting it up for even more ridicule when things don't work as they should.

If I wanted my PlayBook to run Android -- I'd just use my 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab running Gingerbread. Least it has Android Market access, native email and the apps work as intended. Not to mention, you can pick one of those up for cheaper then a PlayBook right now with 3G. Plus, it already has all the apps PlayBook owners are craving.

Not trying to sound negative but really, this is what we've reduced RIM to? Needing to run another OS in order to fulfill demand and use Android as a stop gap?  All I want from my PlayBook is what they said were going to be there in the first place -- give me my native email, give me my native BBM. They have games and apps well under way now that they've delivered the SDK.

They showed up to DevCon and showed everyone how friggin cool the Android App Player was yet, never even demoed the things PlayBook owners want the most being the native applications they were promised out the gate.

The Playbook will face the same Android compatibility issues as the Kindle Fire. Amazon didn't even let you touch the Kindle Fire at the launch event.

Chances are that both will launch at the same time --- and the Playbook will have better Android compatibility and more Android apps.

The bad news of the Amazon Kindle Fire will drown out the bad news of the Playbook.

You're forgetting one key thing here -- and as minor as it may seem, it's high up there for some users and can either make or break a product. Hack Factor.

The Kindle Fire WILL be rooted. The Kindle Fire, much like the NOOK Color will do things it was never intended to do and as such it will adopt faster then the PlayBook.

Right now, the hack factor of the PlayBook is minimal. While you can do certain things with it, it's not as open as the Kindle Fire will be as the Kindle Fires base is Android at the core. Not Android running ontop of QNX.

So, that said -- I respectfully disagree.

Rooting and hacking are fine for those with the inclination. But the typical consumer isn't going to know about those things, or want to go through the hassle of dealing with it.

I'm not saying, don't do it. If you can find a way to make the most out of a piece of equipment you bought, and make it work the best for yourself that you can, more power to you. But saying "it will be rooted" isn't a key feature for big consumer sales, which is what both RIM and Amazon really are looking for.

"Rooting and hacking are fine for those with the inclination."

And installing android apps at this point is easy? lol

Yep... Bla1ze has no idea whatsoever what betas, dev previews, smartphones, blackberries and pretty much anything related boils down to... lol. /sarcasm

I am happy we will have Android apps to play with. I wish they would launch all in their own window like native apps. Is the Player good? It is. Is it as good as we wanted? certainly not.

Was it the right thing for RIM? I seriously hope so!

Based on the comment I replied to it really seems like he doesn't. The idea for the end user is for them to not even know that they're using an Android app. It's not going to be extremely easy for the end user right now because it's supposed to be robust for the developers. I'm not going to defend RIM on the Android player since I don't have an opinion on it either way.

But on the subject of Bla1ze, I have to say that, in my opinion, he's probably the frequent contributor on this site with the least credibility as a journalist. I mean, for crying out load, he doesn't even post under his real name which as a regular contributor to a popular blog is unacceptable. He seems to know a thing or two about various products but, hell, so do a lot of people on the forums. Yet, despite that he's a moderator for the forums and a regular contributor here, he can't go very long without innevitably trying to bring BlackBerry users down. I understand that writers can have their own personal opinion and use what they like but when one of them, someone who readers at least expect to respect the brand to which the site takes its name, stirs a whole pot who takes up half the page in the comments, he's doing something wrong.

So that's my rant. I'm now an Android phone user and like it but frequent CrackBerry because I still want to know what's new and also have my PlayBook still. Yet, what I'm greeted with is one of the contributors arguing with the members of the site over a product that he clearly has no interest in.

I use my real name on the various other sites I post at -

http://www.androidcentral.com/users/chris-parsons

http://www.tipb.com/author/Bla1ze/

:)

Aside from that, I make no bones about calling any company out abt their faults be it Apple, Google and yes, even RIM -- just because it's written on CrackBerry doesn't mean I'll kiss their arse and defend them for things I wish they would have done better.

I love RIM, I'm a Canadian -- I want RIM to succeed but I'm also not blind to their current shortcomings nor will I pretend they don't exist. And looking around, I'm clearly not the only one having these feelings.

If no one else will say what's on their mind -- I will and have been congratulated for doing so on many occassions especially given my "stature" within the BlackBerry community.

The hacking crowd is a limited audience.

Once you root the Kindle Fire and put ASOP on it, there is still a lot of hardware limitations that will limit the experience of the user --- like no camera, no gps, no gyroscope... There are also software limitations like you can't take the Honeycomb netflix app and put it on the Kindle Fire because that the DRM module is basically limited to tegra 2 chipset.

http://www.androidcentral.com/netflix-rooted-nook-color-how

Yup.

http://www.androidcentral.com/ti-achieves-first-netflix-hd-certification-new-streaming-capabilities-coming-android-devices

Limited to Tegra 2? Not so much.. remind me again which processor the Kindle Fire is running?

That is the SD version of netflix without the DRM --- although the Kindle Fire doesn't have HDMI out, so it may not matter.

TI has certified their own netflix app with their own DRM modules --- which is not available for you to download anywhere.

It is available to OEM's who would like to make Android tablets with OMAP4 chipsets. It is not available to you as the end user.

Either way, I stand by my original statements which break down to:

1) Android App Player on PlayBook is Lame.

2) If I wanted to run Android, I'd buy an Android tablet and have it done right.

3) It's pitiful that RIM saw this as a solution to anything.

4) RIM just needs to deliver the native stuff they promised, apps and games are already figuring themselves out now that the tools are avail.

/endrant.

It depends on what is "have it done right"?

What we have right now is repackaging of Android apps by end-users without the source code. Even Amazon has a FAQ out telling developers to recode their android apps to degrade gracefully on the Kindle Fire.

The experience should improve somewhat with that.

Ultimately, it will come down to HTML 5 and Native Apps. I'm pretty sure if they wouldn't be screwing around with trying to get every ecosystem to run on the Playbook, they would have gotten a lot further in their Development efforts, but it is what it is... They are trying to get apps/developers, and I'm not going to complain. I just want them to crush Apple/Google! By the way, why are you always the Negative Nancy about things with RIM?

They aren't going to "crush" Apple nor Google anytime in the near future. RIM just needs to focus on catching up at this point.

And what do you expect a rooted tablet without any kind of connectivity will do? Run more games maybe? Install a media player? The Kindle Fire is even more limited than the playbook if it's to run other android apps IMO.

AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

You have hit the nail on the head, and I couldn't have said it better. I have been pulling for RIM, have been a BB user for years, and bought the Playbook in June. The ineptitude of the company is simply stunning. They bring out incomplete phones (such as the 9900) that sacrifice core strengths like battery life and wifi calling. They bring out a tablet that is woefully short on key apps, and produce an SDK 6 months AFTER the tablet debut. I broke down and bought an iPhone 4S last week, and while it doesn't do some this as quickly as my BB 9700 did, it does MUCH more and IT WORKS!!! I'm afraid my my 64 gig PB goes next -- that's $699 down the drain! I played with the 7" Galaxy Tab while waiting for my PB at the Sprint store, and it was VERY impressive.

RIM is too far behind the curve. They should seriously consider just porting Ice Cream Sandwich to the Playbook and selling BBM for all platforms. Focus on a consistent user experience, sexy and bulletproof hardware, and long battery life as opposed to razor thin design. Will RIM do this? Probably not.

I didn't want to believe it until this past week, but right now RIM is looking a lot like Nokia did a year ago.

It's a sad day.

I may suggest one way to encourage the port of apps from android to native bb is for app running on android player apps must be free, if developper want to charge for an app it must be native. That way a developper a) may go for the android fist to test acceptance and then make the native app or b) if app is known to be successfull may do the native directly.

Then the majority of people probably just wouldn't bother, unfortunately. I like the thinking, but as a dev (native) I don't think it would work. If I couldn't make money off of it, what's the point of the effort - even the small effort - of porting it at all?

It has been said often enough that on average you make more money developing for Blackberrys than for iOS and Android. It just hasn't been as easy. Most free apps are loaded with adverts so there is something there for porting free dumbed down apps.
The whole point is to silence everyone going on about there being less apps in appworld. No one denies the quality will be dubious. Most native apps are iffy anyway.

As a JAVA developer myself. I would not develop BBX apps using Andriod. I would go native or webworks or even AIR. RIM should just concentrate on BBX and scrap android player. There are already alot of angry JAVA BB developers including myself.

Nice work Shao.

Thanks.  Btw sorry I didnt get to chat with you at devcon, I turned around for a second and you were gone, then didnt spot you again.

Shao and Smiley- I really want to thank you for continuing to support Blackberry and hope that many of the others do too and do develope native apps. I agree with you that that is what is needed. We need alot more like you!!!

I would like to see native Skype, BBM, Kindle, NYTimes, The Economist, among other must have apps a 'professional grade' tablet should have.
Oh, and I would love to have a PB version of the AirVideo app to see media content over wireless. I'm using ORB and the flash stream just doesn't cut it.
These are killer apps that will bring instant revenue to the one who dares to make them.

You should try out the app I used in one of the screen shots, SonicAir.  It's a great app and much better than Orb.

Shao128, a question if you may. If I want to start developing appd for BBX (both PlayBook and the to be released phones) and I can afford to start fresh, what language should I focus on? What would be the easier, faster and most cost-benefit way to deliver?

Really depends on what type of app, but if you are just starting out AIR or WebWorks are easy to get into.

I expect to see them with the release of the android player. I know most people don't want to here this but the Android Player is needed right now. It's going to open them up to get more developers to take another look at them. By allowing the big guns to save money by repackaging we see more apps arrive more quickly.

Absolutely agree. Even if RIM pours money into making these apps it will bring them revenue almost instantly. It's a pity it's been so long and the apps are just not there.

I think if they really wanted the "player" idea on their tablet, it should be the other way around. Have a say "BBX player" on the Android OS for their tablet. RIM may customize the Android OS heavily to make the UI looks like their current platform, as well as bring their native apps such as email, BBM in a virtualized, transparent and secured platform on top of Android. I'm not a developer myself, so I don't know if it's really possible. Either way, I guess all this is too late...

Not to sound mean or anything but that would be a terrible idea, in my opinion. The QNX operating system is being utilized by RIM for more than just its ability to run apps. Apps are just one part of the end-user experience. The Android OS at its core is a completely different offering than QNX and it is not for this reason that they're putting the Android App Player in OS2. As others have said, it's like a band-aid on RIM's neglected open gash known as app support on their ecosystem. So it might stop the bleeding right now (i.e. the consumer sees more apps on their tablet/future phones) but in the long run it's not bringing new apps to the BlackBerry (or rather, BBX) platform.

My hope is that the scenario where a current android developer ports their app over to get some exposure in a new market, then after finding some success, decides to make a native app is the one we see more of. As a knowledgeable consumer I'd pay more for a full function native app than I would for an android app that has been ported, or I would pay an extra dollar or two to upgrade from a ported app to a native app.

It's interesting to get a developer's take on this. Certainly, only time will tell how this will play out. RIM needs to keep doing their part to encourage developers to make native apps though, I hope they see the android player as a stop-gap temporary measure, and not a lasting feature. I'm not sure how you do that, maybe offer a larger percentage of sales commission to native apps? It sounds like they have someone enthusiastic about fixing this problem, and with any luck he'll be given the tools he needs to get it done.

Android market has over 250000 apps.Even if 5% of Apps gets ported that's close to 13000 apps.
You have to remember that RIM is going to launch QNX phones in first half of 2012.And since they are not supporting old Java apps from BB OS their App world will be bare.I think Android strategy is a short term strategy to address this issue.

But for App quality there is no choice but to go native.If a developer chooses to go Android way more poer to him, but remember he will be competing with those native C++ guys for customer dollars.Once there are choices better apps, better runtime will surface to the top.

I think it's a very very well thought out strategy.I would be worried if tehy supported only one run time.Multiple runtime, let the best apps win.

I'm a die hard blackberry fan but RIM needs to get their act together before its too late...Being a developer I'm one of those guys who says hey "2 birds 1 stone" so now I just purchased a android phone for the first time ever and plan to develop for both platforms instead of just blackberry. but apparently it would not be as good as an app developed natively for BBX. That made me ask the question to myself "Then why are they even doing the Android player to begin with?," RIM has literally just pushed me away to develop for another platform and has expanded my horizons. Hey who knows maybe I enjoy my new android more than my blackberry and switch altogether like many have already done with the new iphone4S.

One thing I do know is I will miss my push email, themes and blinking light powered by bebuzz (cool LED app).

I'm no software developer but, I agree that the UI should be consistent even when running an Android applications. I also think though that adding an Android player is not a bad idea, fact is right now Android OS and iOS are the market leaders, and I think its very hard to compete with both of them being at the top..

Totally agree with Bla1ze. If I wanted android apps, I would've picked up an android tablet.
I was a huge RIM supporter but my patience with them has finally run out. At this point, I feel like RIM is just floundering. Blackberry was once a great platform so it's kind of sad
As for me, I'm tired of seeing apps & functionality we should have existing only in demo form. I'm weary of the delays, missed deadlines, promises of "better things to come."
To each his own, but for me, the writing's on the wall. Time to move on.

I think the "short term solution to a long term problem" is a good summary. It stops the excessive bleeding happening right now, and it may keep them alive. But yes, the future is not with Android apps. The future is with native BBX apps.

The main thing that I would love to be visible on the consumer end is what the app was made with. I don't want to end up getting an app that was made in Android if there is something that does the same job made natively. Over time the best apps, which will mostly be native apps, will end up at the top of the rankings, but in the meantime, we are likely to get flooded with a bunch of crap. Once this sifting happens, devs will be more likely to develop natively to try to get to the top, but in the meantime a lot will just port over garbage and hope to grab a couple hundred bucks for virtually no work.

So whether it will work long term, I'm not sure. I'm inclined to think yes, that more apps - even crappy ones - will translate into more attention to App World and more device sales, which will translate into more native apps as well. But to some extent we'll always have to deal with the lazy developers looking for easy money and the lower-quality apps they port over.

To be frank, I think that this move, strategically, was a small mistake in the short-term, a good decision in the medium-term, and a huge mistake in the long term. Here's why:

Short-term: Small mistake. Had the developers at RIM been working on all of the native tools for the last 9 months instead of trying to get the Android player to work properly, we would have had the new NDK released months ago (rather than having just been released in beta), as well as Cascades and so forth. Obviously, I don't know exactly how much manpower was dedicated to the Android player, but I'd imagine there were more than just a few developers on it. In the end it may have made no difference (maybe they just hired more people to work on it) but really, if you're building a platform, you want to get people on it as quickly as possible.

Medium-term: A good decision. As was pointed out above, when BBX phones launch, there will be no Java support. That means every app that was written with Java needs to be rewritten (or will just never get rewritten), leaving App World relatively dry at launch. By opening up the floor to Android apps, this ensures a good selection of apps to start with while devs are busy porting their old Java apps. Smart.

Long-term: The app ecosystem will ultimately end up fragmented, and the user experience across all devices will lack consistency and hinder peoples' ability to work and communicate effectively. They're undermining their own company by not encouraging developers to build for it natively. Furthermore, Android is throwing out new devices with new versions at a fast pace, so the developers will eventually stop supporting version 2.x for their apps, leaving the BBX platform unable to run them.

In order to ensure success moving forward, RIM needs to stop promoting the Android player as soon as there are a respectable number of good apps available, and start pushing the NDK and BBX-specific tools much harder moving forward.

Oh, and another strategic note... it would have been smarter of RIM to call up Google and say "hey, we're going to let devs sell their Android apps in our store. We'd much rather work with you, let people buy the apps through YOUR store, and in return, have you support all the Google apps (Maps, Gmail, Voice, Skype, etc.) on BlackBerry devices." Because Bing is, and always will be, garbage.

Something tells me that you're not in a position to make any assumptions about what any developers at RIM have been working on for the last 9 months.

You all complain that App World sucks...RIM gives you more apps through Android player and what happens? You all complain more.

Good stuff.

Who's complaining? I was talking business strategy. I love my Berry and Book, I don't care for apps because I like visiting the full websites. Next time read the post you're replying to.

And thanks for the correction, MS does own Skype now, my mistake. I care about maps more in any case.

I love your idea to work with Google on the apps front, at least in the short-term. BlackBerry owners would definitely "leap-frog" iOS users in terms of Google Maps and Sync (a whole 'nother lever of app integration and features on Android!)

I have always thought that Android on the Playbook was a very bad strategic idea. RIM should simply forget about doing this, and do whatever it can to encourage developers to do quality BBX/QNX apps. A GOOD email and PIM app...or even just a few to choose from...would go a long way to increasing Playbook acceptance among consumers. We don't need a lot of apps...just a small range of really good ones.

I am enjoying playing with the android player, but ultimately I agree: instead of the android player they should have prepared the NDK and gotten it in front of developers months ago. We would then have a stronger base of apps...

I'm not a developer but am a (disappointed) Playbook and BB owner. It was interesting to read some insightful comments from the community that supports this market. Nice posts all. I'll keep my fingers crossed that RIM can make something out of the Playbook before it's obsolete.

This is not a bad strategic decision. Any developer who wants to use the power of the NDK will. It's as simple as that.

Also, anyone suggesting that RIM should have used Google's App Store is a tool and should stop commenting. The apps have to be repackaged and have to pass QA to ensure that they work properly on the PlayBook. Would this be the case if users were simply allowed to download whatever they wanted from Google's store?

Seriously, I don't see it as an either/or issue at all. RIM has released some awesome tools (Cascade) to encourage developers to create sweet native apps for BBX, and in the meantime they can make up the deficit of apps by making some Android apps available for BBX as well.

I believe with time the android player will improve, just as the OS is improving. In the end, consumers want loads of apps and it will take too long to just continue begging developers to take the extra time to create separate apps for BBX, when right now they can do both.

There is no doubt that the ability to access android apps, even if its just 30% of the android marketplace, that's a big plus for RIM. Its also a good way to get android developers to take a second look at BBX.

My only concern now is the time. RIM is way too slow with innovation. The only thing encouraging me still is their new acquisitions.

I don't know why we're even having this conversation....it's like RIM is flailing around in the dark. Can't RIM hire folks who have experience at virtualization engines ? This is not new technology, its been around for years.

I can buy that it might not work for all Android apps and some work-arounds might be needed. I also understand that native apps will always be better. But this has been under development for almost year, why RIM is projecting this "lost in the woods" messaging at this point is beyond me. Certainly they must be better than this ?

"Releasing" a leaked version, then a Beta version...WTF ? Just get it done already !

I do not understand the hysteria over Droid apps. I used the HTC Thunderbolt for several months while waiting for the new OS7 devices and found that the over whelming majority of apps do not work. It is so bad that it has become a game trying to find out which ones work with which phones. I have been mystified why Droid and Apple do not attract whiners like BlackBerry does. I keep imagining RIM employees setting in there offices shaking there heads wondering what they did to deserve this and how to get some of these whiners to go pick on someone else for a while. Have my new 9850 it is as fast as my Thunderbolt with the same problem of accidental touches. Wish someone could fix that. Oh, wait, RIM did and the whiners killed it. When you kill off all of RIM what will you do then?

If I have the app, I don't care about the settings menu. I think for the most part, Android has succeeded even though they have fragmented operating systems, UI customizations across all manufacturers, and etc. The average consumer just won't care as long as they can access the app. The developers will make native apps if the demand on the devices grows and just replace the converted app in App World later.

Consumers are accustomed to getting iterations of software, so this is a great first step and they shouldn't delay it just to make tweaks they still don't know the consumer cares about.

From reading this it maybe fair to say that RIM is soon dead. So much confusing. It took 6 month to launch the Playbook after announcing it. Now it is another 6 month or more to wait for it to function properly. 1 year later and still no spell check or predictive text. So October is soon ending and still no meaningful news about moving the Playbook forward. I can't even get the damn piece of crap sold yet. I hate to say but Its sad because the potential is right there. RIM's board just can't see its time to get rid of the two jackasses at the top and save the company.

I've been pleased to test the droid runtime as I could try apps like RDP pro, to preview what others apps or embedded OS features can do in the (hopefully near) future.

I guess it was mandatory for the press and buzz circus, it may have attractiveness for developers that don't even consider before developing apps for QNX, it may plug the holes for a while ...
But I sincerely hope that it will not (as it seems it has) consume RIM's dev team time forever.
The myth of the "I-can-do-whatever" device should be burned. If I want droid, I buy droid.

RIM's got a brand new and promising OS, they must stick to it and impose their brand ... ASAP.

So, to answer the question: Build, please ...

I think that , at first , RIM should've targeted all the App Market Developers . Not the App Market itself . The Devs with the most apps , or the Devs with the most popular apps , and sent them all these Dev Kits , PB's , software , hardware and whatever else they would need , plus Support . Even throw some ideas at them for apps or games and let them run with it . Like they said , this short term solution may be good or bad , but I don't see it as the future of BBX . . . At all . . .

The key is virtualization. The android player does that, the Citrix receiver does that, eventually VMWare and other virtualization companies will do the same. The key is choice. I run a mac with VMWare fusion and Citrix to access Windoze and other server based apps. The playbook is a multitask giant. My friends once they see the playbook in action are impressed. The iPad sucked, the iPhone sucked when they first launched and didn't even have cut and paste, even the first windows 7 phone didn't have cut and paste. Remember when the iPhone first came out and no one could even register the phone to use, or how about MobileMe...disaster, how about the antenna issue with the iPhone4? Man people have short memories! Yes Apple and Google have been quick to market but are they in fact that much better? Try doing anything well on the internet without flash support. why does one have to modify their behavior because someone else says so. Over time the tech and software will evolve. The more options you have the better. The BB is absolutely the best messaging device and best communicating device on the market. Evolution to an new platform takes some time. In this case just a little to slow.

Stop moaning and groaning and just enjoy...

I hope everyone doesn't think that the beta OS and beta android player you put on the playbook is anything like what it will be. You converting an app and side loading it just isn't the same as the dev having to convert, tweak and submit it.

Stabbing the Java developers (for the phones) in the back by providing epic tools for android devs to make the transition while doing NOTHiNG for java devs just shows BlackBerry has zero loyalty to anyone. Shame on you RIM, shame on you.

Are we forgetting the BBM factor? Imagine Android Apps, repackaged, and given BBM capabilities, might not happen right away, but as the market gets more competitive ...

Kevin, why are you fixating on minor UI differences between PB and Android apps? Who is really going to be bothered that a checkbox or slider looks different inside of an app? Maybe its just me, but if I were out looking for a tablet, I would be more interested in the one that supports multiple platforms. Why would I want to purchase some no-name android tablet (who really cares what the brand of an android tab is) when I can get something more classy that will support Android in its own unique platform? This could help RIM improve its chance of survival when MS enters the game.

Most Android devs won't write native apps for BBX, because they write their apps in Java which isn' t available on BBX.

BB devs can now transition to the most popular smartphone platform if their apps don't rely on RIM's APIs since Java will only be supported on Android.

It's RIM's responsability to ensure that the UI looks consistent for apps running through the player. They've done a bad job so far.

And in order to attract more devs, RIM needs to provide more APIs and more features to BBX. The Playbook is behind in terms of security API, doesn't offer a BBM API and let anyone browse the source code of apps...

found this on a rim related article from earlier this year.....well worth a read:

Hamranhansenhansen (http://www.mondaynote.com/2011/03/27/rim-the-inmates-have-taken-over-the...)
Posted March 28, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink
> One thought, however, on the bits about Android apps
> running slower by comparison. That may be true, but
> I’m not sure we can assume that just yet. Android apps
> even on *Android* devices run in a VM.
Yes, which is why they run so badly on Android as well. I think the comparison here is between VM apps and native apps, vis a vis RIM’s announcement that they will have Android apps at launch, but their native C/C++ SDK doesn’t ship until later.
Right now, iOS has a native C/C++/Objective-C advantage all to itself. Apple’s mobiles are the only mobiles that are open to C developers. Every other mobile walls its C development off just for the device maker. Native development enables Apple to have lower RAM (cheaper devices), longer battery life, and a much broader range of much more powerful apps. Especially in games, which are all written in C++. That is an outrageous advantage over other mobile platforms.
I would have liked to have seen RIM focus on making PlayBook the best HTML5 platform they can make and the best native C/C++ platform they can make. Make the HTML5 platform as iOS-like as possible (they are already using Apple WebKit as their browser engine) so that iPhone/iPad Web apps just work. And make it as easy as possible to port an iOS native C/C++/Objective-C app to PlayBook.
Right now, iOS developers have nowhere to port to. RIM is saying “Android developers, port to PlayBook” even though Android apps are VM apps. They should be saying “iOS developers, port to PlayBook”. They should be betting the whole PlayBook on that. Right now, iOS developers are spoiled by 3 things: native C, a limited range of highly compatible devices for deployment and testing, and a great end-to-end developer program with built-in remuneration. Nobody else has been willing to provide even 1 of those 3 things to iOS developers. RIM is uniquely positioned to provide all 3, if that had been their priority.
But like Steve Jobs said, RIM doesn’t know what they are doing as far as being a computer maker and offering a software platform. They are building a device independent of thinking of it as a development platform and hoping developers will sort it all out. With Apple, as much as the iOS SDK shipped a year after the first device, the SDK actually preceded the device. Developers inside Apple used that SDK to make the built-in iPhone apps that shipped with the first device. iOS was built as an app platform, which is why 3rd party developers lost their minds when they saw it and wanted to develop for it. It’s a phone where the T9 keypad has been replaced with app icons!
I think the next important event in PlayBook’s life will be when the native SDK ships. If it is awesome, PlayBook may be around in 5 years. If the native SDK sucks, put a fork in it.

I read the article amazing couldnt agree more. the facts the charts and numbers tell the truth. blackberry was always a step ahead they have to convert now!

one simple question, when will it become available? galaxy tab has evolved from 7", 10", 8" and now 7" ver 2. while we are still talking about OS 2 Beta...

Honestly I'd rather RIM solve the problem with the Appworld's lack of support for international customers as I can't purchase anything due to the currency problem. I see no point in having the QNX platform if I can't purchase the Android apps as well. This has been a known problem for a while but it doesn't look like a solution is coming soon with the way it's been going.