How to backup your Android device apps and convert them for BlackBerry

By Bla1ze on 7 Feb 2013 01:57 pm EST

Yes, the image above is of an Android device. But don't get freaked out about it appearing on CrackBerry just yet.

There is a good reason for it, so allow me to explain. Since the release of BlackBerry 10 as well as the BlackBerry Z10 we've been getting a lot of questions on just how folks can back up their free and paid apps on Android and have them run on the new BlackBerry 10 platform using the built in Android app player.

If you find yourself asking that question, you're in luck! You can jump below and read our full walkthrough.

Now before we fully get rolling on this there are a few things to mention. First off, this guide assumes you already have an Android device kicking around in order to install apps onto and subsequently back them up with. It doesn't need to be connected to a network but it should be Wi-Fi enabled so that you can download the apps needed. Plus, having Wi-Fi will help you send the backed-up .apk files to your computer for conversion, though you can always just pull the files off your Android device using your computer as well through mass storage mode.

Secondly, you should only be using your own backed-up Android files for personal use. The question of legality always comes up when we do these sorts of posts and while there isn't really anything illegal about it, I'm certainly not going to pretend like you'll listen to me if I tell you not to share the files with others. You'll do whatever you wish, but consider this a disclaimer of sorts. If you're paying for apps and converting them, don't share them. Cool? Alright then, let's get to this and show you all exactly how it's done.

With your Android device in hand what you're going to need to do first is grab an app that can read your device to find out which apps you have installed onto it. For that, there are a number of options available in the Google Play store though personally I prefer to use one called App Backup & Restore. It's a free app and it works great.

From there, you can start installing any apps you wish to convert from the Google Play store. I say 'any' apps very loosely because there are some apps out there that just simply will not work. In some cases, they're not compatible with the Android 2.3.3 runtime that is currently included with BlackBerry 10. Overall, it's a trial and error thing so you won't know until you try.

In other cases, the Android developer rightfully doesn't want you copying their apps so they've used encryption methods that don't allow you to export the needed .apk file. In the Backup & Restore app image above, these apps are denoted by the orange locked icon beside them. You can still try but your success in exporting them will be limited.

Once you have the apps you want to convert downloaded and installed on your Android device, you'll want to go ahead and fire up the Backup & Restore app you also downloaded. It will read your device and then discover all the apps that are installed. Once discovered, you can selet all of the apps you wish to back-up by checking the check boxes or long pressing on individual ones. Once backed up, they'll go to your archive where you can access them by tapping on the 'Archived' tab at top.

Now that you have the .apk files needed backed up, you then need to get them off of your device. To do that, you just long tap on the app you wish to export and the menu will appear, from there just tap on 'Send' and you'll then be presented with the sharing menu where you can choose how to export the file as seen below.

Personally, I just send them to a Dropbox folder using the Dropbox for Android app but there are several ways to get them off, including the old school method of just grabbing your USB cable and moving them. Email, Bluetooth, Box - it's up to you. As long as you get them moved you can then proceed onto the next step of actually converting them to .bar files.


Now that you have the .apk, you'll need to move on to the next step which is to actually turn it into a .bar file that the BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 will recognize. There are several ways of doing this depending on how advanced you really want to get.

Previously, I wrote up a guide that walks you through the whole process using the BlackBerry tools but that's all rather lenghty and not really needed now given the fact that since that article was posted, an online tool called 'PlayBook .apk to .bar converter' has appeared which does all the heavy lifting for you given that you have the .apk file.

In my experience, the tool works quite well and you can even download apps that others have already converted from there in addition to converting your own chosen files. It's essentially the best option for those who really don't want to mess with command line tools, installing large SDK's, and registering for signing keys through BlackBerry.  Just point the .apk to the site, upload and then download after the conversion is complete.

Sideload Android Apps On BlackBerry 10

Finally! Close to the end now. Once you've gone through all those steps and have a BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 compatible .bar file, in order to make use of it on your smartphone or tablet you'll need to sideload it. Luckily, we've already written up the guides for both the BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10:

And that pretty much sums it up, you now know how to backup Android apps, convert them and more importantly -- sideload them so that they can actually be used.. If you're looking for more help on the matter, drop some comments and we'll help as best we can or head on in to the CrackBerry Android sideloading forums where there are always some folks willing to help out.

    Reader comments

    How to backup your Android device apps and convert them for BlackBerry


    I've always wanted to try this on the PlayBook too, but wasn't even sure how to get the apps from my phone, all previous instructions I'd found prior started with 'grab your .apk file...'.

    Thanks for putting it all together in one place!

    Is this how we get instagram? Not that I want it I just remembered see a photo with it on there. I'm guessing Netflix won't work but I guess its trial and error time

    Awesome! Thank you so much for putting this together. I want to get the Z10 but there are some apps that I use a lot which are not available for BB and according to the developers there are no plans to be available. So this gives me a great option to use my Android apps on the Z10. Now I just have to hope the ones I use a lot will work!

    BlackBerry needs to dump support for Google Android applications. Encourage native BlackBerry OS 10 application development and improve the user experience for BlackBerry device users. Why all the gaga over Google Android? If Thorsten wants Google Android then he should have just ported Google Android OS to the BlackBerry 10 devices.

    Blackberry's strategy of providing run-time support of Android apps is brilliant. (I'd love them to do the same for iOS apps too.)

    It is a pragmatic acknoledgement that they don't have the same presence in the market as Android, but it also allows Android developers to see if there is any market interest in their apps, without any material cost or risk.

    I suspect (hope) that for apps that have significant interest, many Android developers will quickly see the value in creating native BB 10 apps to better meet the needs of their new customer base.

    The only reason why BlackBerry officially supports side-loading Android apps on the PlayBook and BB10, and supporting the Android runtime to begin with, is because of the open nature of Android. If BlackBerry even thinks about supporting iOS apps on their devices without Apple's permission, you can guarantee a swift lawsuit coming from Cupertino.

    That's a completely false statement, apple/iOS doesn't own the apps just as android doesn't, developers own those apps so apple couldn't do nothing. And you actually can port iOS apps over to bb10 its just a lot more work then android or even starting a native app.

    Apple doesn't own the apps, correct, but they do own the environment needed to run said apps. There is a guy out there that got iOS apps running on I think a PlayBook but he was an independent dev and not affiliated with BlackBerry. I don't think iOS apps (as they currently stand without any conversion to .bar files, if possible) can run on QNX.

    BlackBerry themselves credited Android's open nature as one of the reasons why they even went forward with supporting Android apps in the first place.

    Actually the guy that got iOS aps running claimed to have recreated the API layers of iOS similar to how Windows apps run on Linux through WINE (Wine Is Not an Emulator). There is nothing illegal about recreating an API. Unfortunately he never went farther than posting his video as proof. From posts attributed to him on the forum he was very afraid of what Apple would do to him if he released so only he knows if it is in fact real. If it IS real and were to be released any iOS dev could make their app available but likely would not if they current have it in the app store for fear Apple may retaliate against them. Apps offered via Cydia OTOH could be purchased and downloaded directly. You can see the discussion from last year here -

    This is one of the best things BlackBerry could have done. Especially for all the people that jumped ship to android/iOS feeling that OS7 wasn't enough of an upgrade. This allows one not to lose some of the apps they've grown a custom to. As more users migrate back over, and even join, it makes for an easier transition. This in turn opens up the playing field for native BB10 apps because the developers will see there is market for the app in this ecosystem. This makes way for BlackBerry later to have an even richer experience.

    Don't have an Android device? No problem, I've been using Bluestack which is a free Android virtual machine you can run on your Windows or mac desktop.

    You can download apps from google play and using Ghost ( a great free file browser available on android, Playbook and bb10) you can copy the APK file to a windows shared folder on your machine.

    If you are wondering how to get .apk's without an Android device, I found a decent solution a while back. THere is an Android emulator for Windows called Bluestacks. Basically gives you an Android phone on your PC. That will allow you to download the apps, then you can back up the APK's and convert like above.

    or you can just google "app name".apk download and download it, then use the converter that is online that bla1ze mentioned, and then use ddpb (thats what i use)
    before you used to have to convert and sign them yourself it sucked lol.

    Wow, that is pretty awesome. I guess there was no point in BlackBerry putting out an Android phone if it can do this.

    Can anyone confirm this works for the app?

    It is currently the only app I desperately need on my Z10 right now. I keep losing games cause I can't get to a computer on time and the browser on the Z10 does not play nice with the website as it keep freezing. Thanks in advance.

    Does the Z10 not have a SD Card? Then why can't you just pop your SD Card into your laptop and drag and drop the bar files onto it then pop it back in your Z10 and away you go? That's how I've done my Android apk's before & it's alot easier than the side load your doing via USB. Is it possible on the Z10?
    - KID ANDROID (Team Android Canada)

    I want to run Firstclass email by Open Text. They do have an android version. Does anyone know if you could make it work on the new Z10?

    I just don't get it!!! Why so much work to side load an app? BlackBerry should work out a deal to have Google app world available on BB10. I have been a BlackBerry user for 10 years and seen much hype over launches and thinking this one I'm going to pass on!! Especially when BlackBerry isn't showing any love to USA. I think the time was come to say goodbye BlackBerry!!!!!! It's a sad day but I it's time to part ways!!

    yeah...finaly someone posting it...

    i used it since long time ago.,...

    1) install an app on android
    2) use app ApkExtractor
    3) convert .apk on Apk2Bar to .bar
    4) sideload it to Playbook.

    80 % of my desired apps works well !

    ----one more thing---

    for all these steps you dont even need a PC.

    all you gotta do, is to install proxyoid on your android phone,
    and then on Playbook to use app Localbar2.

    easy peasy

    enjoy :-)

    How come only apps work and not games??? is it true that they're going to update the emulator to android 4.2?? If so will it only run apps like it does now??