Android App Player

How to sign, convert and install Android files for your BlackBerry PlayBook using Windows or Mac

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Development Mode

Since the release of PlayBook OS 2.0 we've been covering a lot of different ways to get Android apps onto your BlackBerry PlayBook. Most of the methods covered take into account that you may already have the Android .APK files converted to a BlackBerry PlayBook compatible .BAR file and go from there. Gathering up converted .BAR files and installing them is the easy part, but what if you want to convert your own Android files for use rather than downloading those already converted?

There are already a few great guides in the CrackBerry forums but most of those are geared towards Windows users. We will also cover Windows users in this guide, and those of you out there who use a Mac will find that this will be one of the easiest guides to follow to complete the task of converting your own Android .APK files to .BAR files, signing them and even installing them directly to your BlackBerry PlayBook for immediate use. Sound good? If so hit the break to get started.

How to get Kindle, Google Maps, DropBox and other Android apps that are not available in App World onto your BlackBerry PlayBook

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Android App Player

If you're looking to get some big name apps like Kindle, Google Maps or DropBox onto your BlackBerry PlayBook after upgrading to OS 2.0 - have no fear. You now have the ability to sideload (aka load outside of BlackBerry App World) many Android apps with just a few simple steps.

Handster Android App Market to begin submitting Android apps to BlackBerry App World on behalf of developers!

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Android Apps on BlackBerry

One of the questions I asked RIM execs back at BlackBerry DevCon during our Android Apps on BlackBerry press session was in regards to third party Android app marketplaces. I was wondering if RIM, in addition to allowing individual developers to submit their Android apps to BlackBerry App World, would try and work on injesting apps from some of these other Android app sources in volume. The response I received from RIM was that "yes, this is something they have thought about". Whether they would or not was still a question.

But today we have evidence that not only did RIM think about this, but is actually doing it, thanks to this email we received from our friend Wayne (@wjddesigns) at WJD Designs:

How To: Sideload Android apps on PlayBook OS v2.0 for use with the Android App Player

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Lloyd on PlayBook

By now, most BlackBerry PlayBook fans and CrackBerry readers know RIM has officially released the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 software. Along with a slew of new and updated features, OS 2.0 brings along the ability to run Android applications as well. If you haven't updated yet - do it now. You will need it in order to make use of this guide so if you don't have -- grab it before continuing on.

As many have found out, the process of repackaging Android apps for use on the BlackBerry PlayBook is fairly simple provided you have the time and patience to sit down and read through the documentation -- as well, sign up for application signing keys which by the way is still free and available to anyone. For some though, the thought of hunting down .apk files, converting them and ultimately signing them is just far too technical to even bother trying.

That said, if you're not all that tech savvy but have already installed or are planning to install PlayBook OS v2.0 and really just want to try out some of the many Android apps already converted by CrackBerry Forum members, then this is the guide for you. It has very little technical jargon and only requires that you have a Windows internet connected computer, a BlackBerry PlayBook as well as a USB cable and some patience. If you're using a Mac you're in the wrong place - check out our tutorial on sideloading from your Mac here.

Read on if you're looking to learn more.

Android App Player on BlackBerry Q & A - Answers to the *Tough* Questions!

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Android App Player FAQ

One of my favorite experiences at BlackBerry DevCon 2011 was the press briefing I attended on the topic of BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps. Present from Research In Motion were Chris Smith, VP of the BlackBerry Development Platform, and Larry McDonough, Manager of Handheld Software Platform (focus on APIs and runtimes).

In addition to fielding questions, the goal of the session was to educate the press with demos of Android apps running on the PlayBook and to witness just how easy the re-packaging/porting process is. Normally a session like this is half demo, half Q&A, but with a lot of bloggers and media in attendance for this one the questions started flying within minutes and didn't slow down right up until the end. 

I actually recorded the audio from the session (on my Bold 9900 of course) have embedded it above for playback or you can download it here. You may have to crank up the audio to hear everything, but if you're interested in learning more about RIM's ambitions in supporting Android apps on the BBX platform, I suggest you listen. There's a lot of great stuff in here. Note - I was pretty fired up in this Q&A so ask a LOT of questions (seriously... I was the annoying kid in class who had his hand up the whole time). 

For those who don't have time to listen to the audio, below I've condensed and written up in my own words the answers to what I felt have been some of the biggest lingering questions on the topic of Android Apps on BlackBerry. Keep reading for more!

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

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Android App Player

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.

Update on BlackBerry PlayBook Updates: Monthly software updates on hold in favor of a Tablet OS 2.0 Re-Launch?!

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BlackBerry PlayBook 2 Relaunch

With all of the new BlackBerry Smartphone excitement this week (be sure to check out our reviews of the Bold 9900/9930 and Torch 9860/9850/9810), we forgot to note on the blogs the BlackBerry PlayBook's 120 day anniversary. Is it a milestone worthy of a joyous celebration? Not quite. Though the PlayBook is powerfully awesome and does have a ton of great things about it -- I spent an hour last night watching music videos on the new Vevo app -- we're still waiting for some MAJOR features to hit, like Native Email and the Android App Player. And while our BlackBerry PlayBook forums have been buzzing with users anxiously waiting for the next monthly-ish update in what we thought would be a "steady cadence" of updates, it's now looking like those shorter-term planned updates are on hold in favor of a much bigger PlayBook 2.0 re-launch.

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