More details emerge about the Android App Player compatability on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Android Apps
By Jared DiPane on 28 Sep 2011 10:09 am EDT

We all have been anxiously awaiting the BlackBerry PlayBook OS2 update to roll out and one of the key features in anticipation is the Android App Player. We have previously taken a look at it when it leaked out and it left us wondering more about the details, what it would run, what is compatible and how it will all work. Overseas there is an event taking place this week called Droidcon at which some RIM engineers shed some light on some of the details, breaking down what would work and what wouldn't.

While some people will think that any type of restrictions are negative and that it is purpose defeating, take a minute to realize that this is an App Player that is running on a seperate platform, it isn't going to bring you a full Android experience. That said, widgets and live wallpapers,  and apps that rely on Google Maps integration or make use of in-app billing will not run. Applications which are built using the Android Native Development Kit (NDK), using SIP or VOIP SIP and cloud-based messaging services will also not be able to run due to restrictions of the Android player. 

Take it as you will but it is a sign of good things to come. More information surfacing means that RIM is probably closer to release, as they have official information about it, and are willing to share more information about exactly how it will work. So, does this news disappoint you, or was this basically what you expected to see?

Source: The Next Web

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

More details emerge about the Android App Player compatability on the BlackBerry PlayBook


Yeah, the PR and marketing is really askew at RIM. What you do is hype what works so much that what doesn't seems irrelevant. The Apple way.

If you read the BerryReview breakdown of why they won't work, you'll see it is not that bad, that it makes perfect sense and that this is AWESOME news!

Ehhh, it's hard to spin this as "AWESOME", exactly.

Even so, these limitations aren't so hard to understand, and there's some chance that SOME apps might slip through (there can be a fair gap between "not supported" and "flat-out won't work").

At this point any piece of news that comes out suggests that the whole program isn't grinding to a halt, but this is going to be a loooong month.

To answer the question, it's what I expected to see. But there are a tons of apps people will want and use that doesn't need the full integration. Its a smart move on RIM's part. Kudos.

my question is how do we know which apps are built using androids native ndk? could we maybe get a list of the popular ones that we won't be able to use? i hope netflix isn't one of hem.

you don't have to worry about that, i think it's almost sure you can only download apps from app world instead of android market. so... what you can find in the app world are the apps you can use......

Sadly... at this rate your answer is probably:


Seems like the PB is being left in the dust and now with the new Kindle Fire announcement who knows what's going to happen...

Really... Did you even check all the apps that were running on the leaked Android Player?

At least half his list is covered.

And from the article, we already know we can expect to leave everything Google out.

It's a safe bet you shouldn't make any judgement based on the leaked player.

The leaked player was far more open than I anticipated, and the latest information is more like what I expected.

For a start apps will no doubt only be available from BlackBerry App World which probably means vendors will have to rebuild the apps for submission to App World.

So only vendors that take the trouble to upload their apps to App World will be available.

Well that doesn't completely rule out those apps not working right? I mean officially by RIM those apps won't work.

But with a little help from the community and side loading, those apps could technically work right?

Hmmm. That's the whole reason I android apps to run through QNX. I don't want to let them have all the permissions. Have you ever considered what data android apps collect and sell? Why do you think they're free to you, the consumer, because others are buying your personal information.

Don't get depressed on me SteelGreek,

The Kindle Fire is not anywhere close to being a real tablet. They have no cameras, no microphone, and quite a few inferior specs.
They are meant to crush Nook color and probably will.

I don't see why games like Angry Birds or apps like Netflix won't run because they don't seem to need SDK. Why would you need to dip into Google libraries and tools when you don't use their maps or anything else?

I'm no techie so I'm making assumptions but it would be great if we can get a list of the top ten apps that will work at some point after you guys have time to look into it.

Just seems as though we've been waiting and waiting... Don't get me wrong, I love my PB and will use it for a lot time to come, but it just seems with all our high hopes we're only let down.

I would agree though- if we could have a list (even a small one) of working apps that would be great. Not having to wait for a DevCon announcement (and given an opened ended release date) would also be very nice...

I think RIM should have told also what will work instead of saying what is not working. The lack of Google-Maps-APIs, In-App-Billing and SIP-Services seem to me, that the Andorid-Player is not certified by google.

"the Andorid-Player is not certified by google."
You think. Way to go Captain Obvious. RIM has no business submitting their application to google for their blessing. RIM needs to correctly identify the applications that will work with the app-player and then bust their @$$ off to get the non-functional app providers to re-write their apps for the QNX-OS. But stop and think about this, outside of your desktop or laptop running an emulator shell or a java-script application, how many other devices can run 2 distinctly different operating systems at once and not crash?

Now if RIM could actually both properly market and timely deliver on these potentials, they would be destroying the power user market.

I can see your point. Why in the world would Google/Android approve this? But then I think, well wait, maybe there is a reason. Customers of google/android will still move towards those products, and the same can be said about RIM products. However, if Google/Android doesn't have to really create or change anything, and their native and 3rd party apps are available to a entire new market that they were never able to reach? Well in that case, why wouldn't they. Worst case scenario, they make more money off selling more copies of apps. Best case scenario for them, they convince some of the BlackBerry owners to change over to Google/Android products.

Actually, the Playbook's Android Player is going to be certified by Google --- because only certified Android ports that pass the compatibility testing can carry the "android" trademark.

Android's licensing terms is Apache 2.0. RIM can fork it and keep the source code private (like Amazon is doing with the Kindle Fire). But you have to call it by a different name if you don't pass compatibility testing. Since RIM is calling it the Android Player --- we know that it is a certified port because Android is a Google trademark.

Google Maps is under a different licensing agreement --- which RIM decided not to sign. Hell, RIM already signed a searching deal with Microsoft.

In-App billing is also under a different licensing agreement.

Google Markets is also under a different licensing agreement.

So are only the ones that WILL work going to show up on "our" version of the Andriod App market? I mean I'd hate to launch this thing, have all these apps showing, end up buying something only to then realize that it's not going to work.

A majority of the apps are built using the Android SDK, which is used to build apps that run in Android's Dalvik virtual machine. Which is what will be compatible with the PB's Android Player. Apps built with the NDK are built to run natively within the Android OS.

RIM should screw the android player and concentrate on QNX instead. There is no innovation in RIM and it alienate RIM developers. Who is going to develop for QNX when there are 1000s of free apps like games?

Good for consumer and bad for RIM developers

I'm no dev, but the way I see it:

- RIM is providing Android devs an new ground for their apps. They can have the apps they ALREADY CODED run in another platform, thus making money for something they do not have to put much effort on;

- "RIM devs" can now code in yet one more platform (Adobe Air, QNX NDK, Marmelade, Java, C++, wow) and oh, look - they can take their android apps made for the PlayBook to the Android Market (and hope they sell. Reports don't really support that they will);

- Since I mentioned those reports, Android devs will now have the BlackBerry userbase, known for buying stuff, looking at their catalogs;

- If going the PlayBook way shows promisse, devs WILL want to push it a notch amd move to te NDK for better OS integration and user astonishment (the two things that WILL make anyone buy apps).

So tell me.. How can this be bad again?

Couldn't agree more.

RIM has alienated it's own developers. There's absolutely no news about the BlackBerry Player that is intended to play BlackBerry apps.

All they want is to be able to say there are 500,000 apps. Except there won't be anywhere near that many and the Android Player risks being a complete PR disaster if it doesn't work well.

They should have invested time and energy in creating a better development environment.

And if they run Dalvik they'll become a target for an Oracle patent suit.

Which by the way is probably the real reason there's no Java on the Playbook. My guess RIM doesn't want to pay a Java license fee. Can't blame them. At the moment Android devices are no doubt far cheaper to the carrier than are BlackBerrys in part due to various license fees Google is avoiding.

I'm sure RIM did say what would work, but we live in a world of "Crap on RIM" find anything bad and report that.

Let's be clear this is RIM's fault. By that I don't mean the engineers, I mean RIM management. Do they not realize that letting their engineers into the wild to talk willy nilly about this before it is released is about the stupidest thing they could do???

I'm telling you the day they release version 2.0 with fanfare all media reports are going to be about what it cannot do and end up by saying you still don't want to buy this tablet.

Now RIM management should have a plan to tackle this. Will they? Nope.

Would just like to see the update already. I love my PB as it is but improvements are always welcomed.

The more apps that run on the Android Player, the less motivation for developers to write for the Playbook/QNX right?

What I expected. I never thought that everything Android would work on the PlayBook. Most things Android will, and that will still give us a huge boost, so I'm not really that upset that a few other things are missing.

I also agree that it is good for consumers but bad for devs. I predict a lot of us (I'm an amateur dev) will just program for Android and port it instead of building it for the PlayBook now. It provides a lot more apps to the PlayBook, but lower quality. It also makes devs less and less profitable as their competition increases, and the huge potential for profit is the main thing that is keeping devs on BB right now.

Is that drawback to devs worth it? Even as a dev, I think so. This should go a long way to giving life to the platform, and when that happens everybody wins.

As I read through all the Android-player session topics for DevCon'2011, I'm starting to wonder if RIM is planning to position the Android player as "The supported Java SDK" for the PlayBook (and the future QNX-based phone OS).

But I'm also quite a bit worried that they've been *really* quiet about the BlackBerry Java "player" that was also mentioned when the PlayBook launched. (And despite RIM trying to shove WebWorks down our throats at every opportunity, it is *not* a complete solution to the cross-RIM-platform compatibility/porting problem.)

this may not be related to the play book but i just got a 9810 and can not believe how many app will not work on my new phone because it runs bb7. why haven't they/or made app maker update there app for bb7. it seems bb is very slow with any thing playbook, bb7. how bad is it going to be when they bring out qnx phones. you going to have to wait for a year before the catch up with apps?

RIM stupidly announced they were killing Java development for BlackBerry (when QNX arrives), then released BB7 that requires app vendors to rebuild or at least take action to allow execution of apps for earlier OS.

Why would I continue to waste time and energy on BB apps when I have so many other options open to me, and when clearly RIM doesn't value its traditional developers?

It must have been a common issue because they actually tested and deployed one of my apps for me and notified me by email it was available on BB7.

In years to come textbooks about RIM will become required reading in education courses designed to avoid poor management.

so not to sound like a negative nancy, but if the android player is going to be one of the main features of the playbooks new update, and is a big chunk of what they are relying on to try to steer consumers toward it and away from the competition...why would anyone other than a die hard BB fan buy a playbook instead of an android tablet that will surely handle all the applications much easier, and have the benefit of the standard android buttons rather than mapping their functions to playbook gestures?

or day i say, why would anyone buy a playbook over an ipad?

im talking middle america folks, typical idiots who buy wahts hot to try to fill a void, not those who read CB and defend RIM like its family.

If they could tap into the Amazon App Store... maybe instead of "android in a box" the player should be "Amazon Apps in a box." I smell a partnership...

No in-app purchasing will be particularly missed. And no google apps, well, that's not good either

I fully expected this. We kind of saw it on the leaked player. It's not an Android tablet, so expecting it to run EVERYTHING is foolish. Anything it does run will just be a bonus in my opinion. Give us the player, we as crackberry nation will side load and play with the rest until we figure it out.....

Well...I guess that means no Kindle and no Netflix for my Playbook. This is starting to look bad.

Agreed. No Netflix is a big deal and I'm starting to take a harder look at Amazon video. I also use Slingbox, and those guys certainly won't be coming out with a native Playbook app considering that they haven't done anything to support OS6 and OS7. We may have to pray for astronomical success of the QNX phones before we get a lot of these developers to finally support BlackBerry.

Hmm.. it's been a year since the PlayBook was announced, and after playing with it (yes, playing, I don't see it as a serious device now) this week to determine if the price cut was worth it... well, I'm going to get a Toshiba Thrive.

At least then I have working apps, and I can read SD cards / USB drives with it and push / pull data from the tablet with ease. I can't seem to find a way to push / pull data from a PlayBook at all.

I love that the hardware design appears to be handed over to Amazon for their Kindle Fire. Smooth... doesn't seem like RIM is thinking long term on anything anymore.

still gotta wait to really c it....come on rim...a dumb mistake to release it the same time as the iphone...not smart..but we expect this from rim

plzzz rim i love you make anther update for playbook for google map and live wallpaper plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz i love you i hate IOS plzzzzz RIM plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

What a pain. In summary, I'll have to purchase an app in order to verify whether it even works (or wait for some other sucker to find out for me and post it in the Crackberry forums).

Finally as a Blackberry fan I have to give up. This news is it for me, I am jumping off the Playbook ship. I will be waiting on Windows 8 to save my hopes of having a great tablet. RIM is still not getting it. I will stick with my hopes of a super QNX phone next year. My 9900 is not bad but I want a greater phone. If RIM can't deliver a great phone next year I will completely jump off the RIM ship after 5 years. One Playbook going for sale this week.

waiting for apps to come to the playbook is torture, why am i doing this to myself? gonna buy an ipad 2 or a galaxy 9' soon. :(
RIM you continue to lower the bar, and surprise us by showing how great you are at disappointing us.

the bad news is, i don't see how this Android Player will work to have some appealing power to the PlayBook as without those SDK & SIPs, it's rather pointless, BUT the good news is, I think this is just a matter of RIM showing how QNX can run another separate platform on top of its platform without having to create like a "bootcamp" on Mac, it can run simultaneously with the current OS and yes, I agree that, RIM has bought QNX with lots of its devs, RIM has brought TAT into its environment, so come RIM, show us what your BB should be, show us that QNX is the best OS ever made for a smartphone/a tablet!!!


It's not a bad thing. Maybe a good thing.
Okay, most of you are probably not old enough to remember, but there used to be something called OS/2. That failed for many reasons, but one of the issues was that it had pretty damned good compatibility with DOS & Win 3.1 Heck, maybe even better as crashes didn't bring down your system. So what was the incentive to develop native OS/2? Not much.

I think the same thing would apply here. If Android emulation were "perfect", what would a reasonable developer do? I'd just write the Android version and call it a day. That would be a huge loss for Playbook. Instead, you have some incentive to write a native app for Playbook (especially in light of the study that Blackberry developers make more money...)

Uh,yeah. The failure of OS/2 couldn't have had anything to do with the fact windows came pre-installed on pc's, but you had to buy os/2 separately.