Video Demo of Android Apps Running on the BlackBerry PlayBook via the Android App Player!!!

By Kevin Michaluk on 3 May 2011 11:13 am EDT
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Just weeks before the BlackBerry PlayBook became available for purchase, RIM made the announcement that the BlackBerry PlayBook would be able to support Android Apps. Today at BlackBerry World, we got our first chance to see exactly what this experience will look like on the PlayBook. Long story short, it's looking pretty darn good. RIM is working hard to make the experience very integrated on the PlayBook.

As we learned previously, Android App Developers will have to signup with BlackBerry App World and bring over their apps (an easy process), from which PlayBook owners will be able to download the Android-gone-BlackBerry apps from App World. On the PlayBook homescreen, the Android apps will appear the same as any other app - you get the same sort of icon. To launch an Android App, first the Android App Player has to be open and running on the PlayBook. If it's already open and you launch an Android App, it'll quickly load within the App Player. If the App Player is not already open when you launch an Android App, it'll first open the App Player and load the app within it (essentially the App Player is literally running the Android OS, so it has to open before the apps will run). Because the PlayBook doesn't have buttons, RIM has mapped the PlayBook's Tablet OS neatly to the Player. So where you would have an option button on Android, within the Android App Player you can swipe down from the top bezel to bring up the options menu. 

Hit up the video above to see it in action and let us know what you think in the comments. The performance with the apps demoed looks pretty solid, so I'm thinking this is going to be a BIG WIN for PlayBook owners. And I'm sure if that considering this is really phase one implementation on a young platform, that we'll further see this support improve over the months ahead. Excited much??

Reader comments

Video Demo of Android Apps Running on the BlackBerry PlayBook via the Android App Player!!!

82 Comments

I think it's really cool, but...

I think the fact that you only need the APK to repackage is a bit disturbing. How will RIM ensure that the people submitting repackaged apps to app world... are actually the original authors and/or otherwise have the necessary rights to do so?

You don't for the applications to work, but I think the devs would have to provide the source code to RIM for the app to be accepted into the app store. I wonder how easy it is for consumers to grab an apk of their favourite app online and transfer it to the playbook, this shouldn't be too hard since you don't need the source code to make the app run (they say it twice in the video)

That might be the only way to prevent abuse; but they've never required that before, and trying to start now would likely cause all kinds of uproar.

The question is which will be worse: the uproar, or the bad publicity of the first high-profile stolen app showing up in appworld for $0.99.

Good for us, little to no reason for Android devs to not submit their apps.

Reason I suspected/wondered if a recompile is required was the requirement for the author to in some way tag the code as their own... a BB wrapper in effect.

I'm sure it's already been sorted out.

Wonder why they don't auto-start the App Player when you open an Android app for seamless integration?

"If the App Player is not already open when you launch an Android App, it'll first open the App Player and load the app within it (essentially the App Player is literally running the Android OS, so it has to open before the apps will run"

One of the items I'm waiting for... now, if my Storm2 works with Bridge I've got the functions I want on the PlayBook. I'm only waiting for Tether to develop an application for the PlayBook so those times I'm away from Wi-Fi I can still use the darn thing. Not going to pay for a second data charge when I don't ever use the first one (never been over 2GB) with my Storm2.

you dont need a tetherberry app to do this. i have the storm 2 and it pairs up with the playbook through blackberry bridge and that allows you to use the phones 3g data plan to get online with the playbook at no additional charge. not the fastest connection in the world but it works for quick searches. absolutely love that feature. i would LOVE .mkv support. any info on whether or not that is coming anytime soon

no... the bridge does not work with apps that are not bridge apps... You'll still need to tether.

Well 1 thing that sucked in that demo is that you cant have multiple android apps running at the same time. every time they opened a new app it would cancel out the old one...

I'm pretty sure they could... but it depends on how large the VM is, if they have to start a new instance with each android app, and how much resources are required.

Ya, I wonder if as the QNX OS advances if it will use less memory (uses about 512mb right now right?) so that you could have multiple android apps open at once. Especially considering you only have the one Android VM.

I noticed this too.

However watching the native PIM app demos I saw the same thing. Hopefully it is just like this for the beta version and they fix this for launch. If they don't that makes the android vm a lot less useful.

Thats cool. So Skype, Google Video Chat, Words With Friends will all put me back in touch with my Xoomish friends.

Also, seems like technically only one android app can be run at a time??? Looks like he only had one instance of the player on the screen.

And...wth...ginormo Conan staring at Heather Morris' butt??? :)

I am amazed it runs so well... I have never used an Android device before but this just seems to work perfectly (no lag and seemingly full integration into the UI). Quite impressed.

There is no connection between Android Marketplace and Android Apps on BlackBerry.. when developers put their android apps onto BlackBerry they are essentially signing up as BlackBerry developers and submitting them as blackberry apps... that were made for android.

so if you own an android app on an android device, you would definitely have to buy it again from app world for your playbook.

Thanks Kevin, that's exactly what I was wondering. At first it sounded like an emulator that allowed access to your android apps.

That's as far as we know right now! Everybpdys hoping for ealry summer though, but late is more like RIM.

Can't wait for some premium online adroid apps to come.

This looks great!

Did these android app have some code fiddle around with it to make it look nice on the playbook. I was hearing all sorts of doom and gloom that these apps would look horrible (black bars and huge empty blank spaces) since they wouldn't be optimised for the screen size/resolution for the playbook but these looked fine, sure a few changes here and there could be more user-friendly but thats what native apps are for right :)

can't wait to see the speech from ballmer and 3d presentation (even though it wont look that great without glasses). No need for that speech from facebook :P

Android's native coding is fantastic in that with a few lines of code, pretty much all resolutions are supported, which is why in most cases, apps don't need a different version to run on phones, tablets or bigger tablets.

Apple should have gotten that hint as well, but where's the money in that right?

No fiddling wit the code. For the demo RIM took the Android binaries and ran them as is.

How well the apps look is all a function on how well the developer developed the code using Google's coding recommandations.

When one of the main advertising thrusts of the Playbook is its ability to multi-task I think RIM is making a big gamble that end-users will be able learn which of their apps they can multitask with and which they can't. I think they need to have a special icon or symbol that tells you an app loads in the Android Player. On the open event the Playbook should warn "Opening APP_2_Name will close App_1_Name. Continue?" Cancel button --- Continue button

Or maybe there's a way to switch between multiple open applications within the Android Player itself, but then you run the risk of nesting confusion. It will be interesting to see how RIM addresses all the possible pitfalls.

You do bring up an interesting point, I guess thats what native apps are for as they integrated far greater but I do wonder what happens with the previous state of those apps (android). does it just 'freeze' the app until you jump back into it because you definitely wouldn't want to lose what you are doing if you accidentally jump into something else.

Hopefully they distinguish between android apps on appworld and those that are native. Surely, someone would want a IMDB native app than a android version unless they go with the decision that once a native app is available, the android one disappears?

It probably won't take much to make these freeze in the background. The freeze unfreeze might not work 100% but then again I think more and more stuff will be purpose built for the playbook as time goes by. I really don't see this as a major issue. Certainly every major app should be made for the playbook, just like facebook was.

They are coming up with dalvik java first, instead of providing support for their own java that runs on their own blackberry devices line.

Yet, hypocrites say the blackberry platform "doesnt need tons of useless apps", look at them, providing android support first. Market demand looks otherwise and indeed needs apps. And blackberry users are flowing with happiness after the news.

Well you are jumping from small numbers to tons. I think what BB people object to is saying BB Appworld is no good because it has 25,000 apps as opposed to 300,000 apps.

The simple fact that App World has 25,000 apps means BB people use apps. But it's the apps race just for the sake of numbers that people object to.

To tell you the truth I'm prety happy with the 3000 apps already on the playbook. The only thing I miss is an app to add comments to a pdf file, and more newspaper and magazine apps. The Fortune one is amazing.

I would agree with you that some apps are needed. Specifically for me it is newspaper ones because you need some optimization for the smaller screen. You can double tap on a website but it isn't as nice as having the stuff packaged from the beginning.

However I'm not excited about the 100,000 Android apps and I hope not all are ported over, just give us the quality one, or better yet have those developers custom build for the playbook.

I'm wondering if these android apps will be able to run on the new Bold 9930...

PLEASE TELL ME THAT IT CAN/WILL BE DONE!

I doubt that i think the QNX phones will, developers will have to make apps with the native BBOS for OS7.

on the bright side with the playbook leading the way when the QNX phone are ready they will have more than enough apps to run.

i think the apps that are currently available will run smoother than before but i dont think android apps will be able to run on OS7, with that being said the new phones have the hardware to run some of the top IOS and android apps so it will be up to the developers to make their apps available.

It looks like it's a little confusing with the player running. I think ultimately it should just open an all and run the android VM in the background, never to be seen by the user. And if another app is opened, it should open another VM to be able to multi task through them.

Btw look at the comments on the youtube vid

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biggerben2010
That's shit RIM crackberry are trying to steal our apps. No wonder their tablet is shit and BBC pawed RIM.

--------------------

jkarlo76
That's bad!!! Google better do something quickly or they'll lose a lot of users and i mean "A LOT".... hence i'll use A LOT of profit...

------------------

lopatamd
cheaters

android users above? not liking this one bit?

LOL okay, Sounds pretty selfish if you ask me... . but shouldn't it benefit both Google and RIM especially the devs who will continue to support android and have a good enough reason to port over to RIM with the option to develop a native app. Something they probably wouldn't have considered before.

how crazy would it be if what you guys are saying would happen... multi-tasking in qnx and.multi-tasking in android at the same time, running multiple apps! this thing is more powerfull than my dual core atom nettop!!!

no one is stealing anything. if google wasnt going to be making a ton of $$ off of this then they would have never allowed the apps to run on blackberry. this is a win win for every single person involved. google and rimm make money, end user spends money but gets what they want. playbook or GTFO

@jSkiLLzZz - Not really. Google didn't *allow* RIM to run Android applications. Android 2.3 is OPEN SOURCE and free to use, RIM has simply taken advantage of this fact to make their own Dalvik engine for QNX. However the new Android 3.0 (honeycomb) is NOT open source, hence the Playbook will not be supporting Honeycomb apps.

Google does not win in this scenario, they don't make any money here. There is the possibility of a lawsuit down the line as this is all very 'grey area'. It's one thing to use the open source Dalvik engine, it's another to use it for profit or to gain profit in a competing product.

The developers win because they can now reach a larger consumer base with minimal effort, and potentially make more money from selling their apps in two markets. Consumers win by having a larger application selection on their QNX powered device.

In a way RIM has triple stabbed Google. First they acquire The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) which is responsible for the Android interface---Google had to find a different resource for the Honeycomb interface. Then RIM uses Google's Dalvik engine to allow easy porting of their Android apps to grow their own ecosystem, then gave them another blow by partnering with Microsoft for their Bing search & maps features.

But, I'm not complaining. As a consumer I'm happy to see this type of consolidation in the market. There are simply too many different competing choices right now. (WebOS, iOS, Windows Tablet OS, QNX, Android)

I refuse to say the obvious immature joke. I will not go down to that level, dammit!
I just won't! lol

Looks great. Only one concern. Will these cause some big name companies to just copy their Android app over to AppWorld rather than build a native Blackberry one from scratch. I hope this does not stunt the growth of really good big name Blackberry apps. No matter how well the VM plays it, it could never be as tightly integrated as it would on a native Android device.
That said, I am really excited by this. It is another feature that makes the Playbook a keeper in my opinion.

Definitely a risk, but I'd think there'd always be enough of a carrot ($) for at least some native consumer app development... So far, BlackBerry (and maybe HP?) is really the only platform secure enough to act as a mainstream platform for non-consumer applications - like medical or government. The RIM tablet platform will definitely have success in many markets, although I think consumers will, for the near term anyway, want the ease-of-use that a closed eco-system like Apple brings with it. Just MHO :-)

The shoe is on the other foot now. Remember those crybabies that had to have BBM all to themselves? (it was rumored that RIM would make BBM cross platform)

Personally i do not care. I like it because it shows the power of the platform but i really want the RIM apps to be ported (Traffic, travel, MSN, ...) i have over 20 apps installed and most of them are RIM based because they are great.

The nice thing is that if someone comes to BB from an Android world they can feel happy they will find what they are used to.

Of course the more the better and i was reading the reports on the net in regards to all the announcements and no matter what they do 80% of the reporters are narrow minded and can not understand or see the bigger picture.

Maybe someone should create an App for that (Call it AppVision)

What about third party Android apps? For example a couple of ministry sites offer Android, iPad, etc. apps but nothing for BB. Could I just download the Android app to the PB and then use the Android app player?

It's interesting, the first applications have ads from Google. It's just a demonstration, or there is some agreement between RIM and Google?

I wrote an inhouse Android app that will never see an app store since we sideload the app onto company owned android devices instead of downloading it. Will RIM support sideloading Android apps that are not for public release?

all blackberries in the enterprises work the same way, the enterprise apps are pushed via OTA by BES admin and not via app world. In future the playbooks will also operate the sameway.

So, if I understand this correctly, if an Android app runs and it's the first one it has to load up the Android runtime first, making that app take a long time to load. Subsequent apps are fast loading since the Android runtime is there.

If a PlayBook user knows they run a bunch of Android apps, I can foresee the complaints of the Android runtime taking a long time to load (how long is this load time right now?).

My suggestion: Have an option to have the Android runtime start up on PlayBook boot up. If a user doesn't use Android apps, they can turn this off (or leave it off); saving resources and initial boot up load time. If the user knows they have Android apps (or maybe downloads their first Android app), have this option pop-up and ask the user if they want to do this.

I understand that RIM wants to make this as seamless as possible but loading an app by a novice user who happens to download an Android app will soon be annoyed by the load time.

Otherwise, GREAT integration, RIM.

do you have a playbook?! the load time even for the heaviest app is like 1.5secs... loading is not an issue! :)

It's one thing to talk about load times of a PlayBook application that has the QNX/Air runtime already running. It's another thing when talking about having Android "boot up" to run an app. I know PlayBook apps are quick to load but if you want to run one PlayBook app, you technically need 1 minute boot up time (for the PlayBook to fire up) plus the milliseconds to run the first app. I know it won't be a minute to start up the Android runtime but I am curious what that time is (it won't be milli-seconds) and if it is an extended period of time, perhaps it could be optionally loaded at PlayBook boot time. If it was milliseconds, it would not have even been mentioned that the Android runtime needs to load for the first app.

I have been told that the only Android apps that will run are those that work on android phones and those designed for android tablets will not work on the playbook.

Full disclosure, I have no experience with android or their apps... just wondered if we will be limited to the world of "phone" apps and not be able to utilize more extensive "tablet" apps.

your replies appreciated...

This is true for now because google has not released the tablet OS but they say they will and then RIM can tweak their emulator to run those too. Google hasn't done it because their tablet OS is still a mess shhhhhh don't tell Xoom users :)

Man, this is good.
I already find my PlayBook AWESOME. I take it EVERYWHERE because it is so portable.
These apps will be burning up the net before you know it.
Looks like we just found our iPad killer. The PlayBook is cool, sexy, and a "gotta get". !

AWESOME. TOTALLY AWESOME !

How can this be the iPad killer when rim is begging Android for their Apps. Look at the sales my friend rim could never be the apple killer. Look at all the hoops you gotta jump thru to read your email, log on, tethering and bridging. None on my iPad. Atleast not on my first one. Second one is on back order. Looooool. iPad killer my ass

I do hope that they fix it to where it allows you to run multiple Android apps at the same time. On a positive not, I am AMAZED at how fluid and easy they ported over to QNX and made them work for the show! The Playbook is blowing me away by the minuter. Now if only they can also fix a few of the issues still not working well like: Bridge- sms/MMS, not working still. Not able to see videos like flv ones in the downloaded folder. Being able to use the USB port to connect external Hard drives, printers, or digital cameras. Also, a Dock that has FULL size USB and HDMI with full size SDHC slot would be awesome along with the rapid charging thing and connects to sync with the computer. Another cool accessory I'd like to see is a Blackberry blutooth keyboard/mouse combo. Lastly, I'd love to see a Blackberry app that lets you connect thru wifi with your wifi printer and an eye-fi app to transfer, copy or view pics from your camera.

This is to funny. Why buy a Playbook and run android goodies on it. Why not buy android. Kind of like having a pinto with BMW rims on it. Somethings just dont seem right

Kevin - There is a technical error in to your blog post. I'm talking about the following quote:

"(essentially the App Player is literally running the Android OS, so it has to open before the apps will run)"

The playbook is NOT running Android OS. Android OS is Linux with a Java-based Virtual Machine called Dalvik running on top of it. It is incredibly small and the later versions (2.3) are very efficient as they compile and translate code in real time. (known as JIT - Just In Time compiling). It uses around 15-25MB of memory for this virtual machine to be loaded into memory.

So what you're seeing running on the QNX operating system is NOT Android OS (a copy of Linux and the Android Dalvik VM) It's just a modified version of the small Dalvik VM running on QNX. Not much different than running Dalvik on a Linux kernel as on an actual Android device---so performance should be similar on the Playbook in most instances, if not better due to the optimized nature of the QNX kernel.

The 'App Player' you're seeing in the video is required to keep the Android apps sandboxed from the rest of the device. Because of the open source nature of Android 2.3, there are a lot of viruses and the like targetting it. It also allows developers to create Android apps specifically targetting the Playbook. In a secure corporate environment, this is an issue. Keeping the memory space separate and preventing Android apps from interacting with native Playbook apps is important. I suspect RIM is attempting to optimize the experience so the Dalvik VM only needs to be loaded into memory once, and you can multitask through open apps using the native QNX 'swipe' interface.

So while you will see Android 2.3 apps that can use the internet, touch support, microphones, accelerometer... you won't find any Android 2.3 apps coded for the Playbook that will interact with the (coming soon) Calendar, Email, or data stored in protected areas of the device. Some things that native apps will be able to do... (talk to one another seamlessly.)

I hope RIM QC's all these Android apps coming into the App Store to prevent any malware.

Great! I just talked to RIM and they said the the Android App will be out this summer. Now that I have just gotten my PlayBook, I'm pretty excited about that. Now I really doubt it will happen but wouldn't it be cool if they cam out with an Apple iTunes App that would play all of the iPhone/iPad Apps? That would by far make the PlayBook the Tablet of the century!!

I got tired waiting for RIM to come out with the Storm 3 and when Verizon came out with the iPhone, I switched from my Storm 1 to the iPhone. But, I knew deep down in my heart that when the Playbook came out, I would be getting it!! I'm not concerned about the Bridge thing.. I'm content that I can sure the FULL internet and have access to what I want to use the Playbook for.

I wish RIM would have more updates or maybe a count down clock.....of course the count down clock might have to slip a couple of times for a couple of days. But at least it will give us a guesstimation.