After struggling with previous versions of the Dingleberry jailbreak, I'm happy to say that version 3 works like a freakin' charm. It bundles a downgrader, so you can get your PlayBook into a prime jailbreaking state, and Dingleberry handles all of the backing up and restoring on its own. So, what can you do with root access on a BlackBerry PlayBook? Well, there's some neat stuff going on with USB host capabilities, but the most obvious application right now is direct access to the Android Market. Sure, you can sideload the apps if you acquire them through less-than-savory means, but Android Market access means you can easily download anything you've already paid - provided it works.
There's a teeny, tiny caveat, though. PlayBook 2.0 is still very much beta, and seeing as RIM isn't even intending on providing access to the Android Market, opting instead to get developers to repackage their creations for App World. Notifications actually work well in the few apps that manage to load, but for the most part, anytyhing downloaded through Google's mobile software portal perform inconsistently at best. Generally, anything you get will simply force close as soon as you open it, but there are a few gems tucked away that perform admirably. That said, here are the best Android Market apps I've been able to run on a jailbroken BlackBerry PlayBook.
Odds are if you use any Google services whatsoever, you've probably heard of Plus, which is the search giant's answer to Twitter and Facebook. Contacts are organized into Circles, so you can decide which Circles see which updates. Since Google and RIM have basically divorced since the whole Bing partnership, odds are we won't see a native Google+ PlayBook app. Thanks to Dingleberry, however, we've got access to the version in the Android Market.
Through the app you can browse update streams among different Circles, post updates, initiate chats, but no Hangouts, by the looks of it. Personally, I've got my hands full managing Facebook and Twitter right now, but for those of you willing to go all-in with Google, being able to access Plus on something a little slicker than a mobile site is a definite boon.
(Since I'm in Canada, I didn't have a chance to try this out, but Joseph did!)
Pandora radio was one of those apps I sorely missed on the PlayBook; I was delighted to find that it works just fine after downloading it from the Android Market. After logging into my Pandora account, all of my stations were there, and let me tell you... blasting Pandora radio out from the stereo speakers on my PlayBook sounded great. One slight annoyance: from within the Android Player, the app fills up the entire screen. I wasn't able to play Pandora and another Android app at the same time. The back function failed as well; I had to close the Android App Player completely to start another Android app. Aside from those minor inconveniences, I love listening to Pandora on my PlayBook for hours on end.
Pulse News was one of the earlier Android apps RIM demoed running on the BlackBerry PlayBook, and I've been frothing at the bit to try it out. It runs super-smoothly, and is just as enjoyable as it is on Android. It's basically a graphic-rich RSS reader, and makes really great use of the big display area. You can share stories from your favourite sites out to Facebook and Twitter, as well as sync up with a web account so you can read stories in a proper desktop browser later on.
Reddit has never got around to making its own official app, but appropriate to its grassroots flavour, the community at large has stepped in to provide a few clients. My favourite is F5, which works reasonably well on the PlayBook. You can log in under your account, upvote and downvote stories, leave comments, and subscribe to new subreddits relating to your interests.
It was a tough call chosing between this and BaconReader, which has some finely polished graphics and manages to boot up on the PlayBook. I found that despite not working particularly well in portrait orientation, F5 gave a much better experience in landscape thanks to its additional sidebar. I also prefer F5's white text on black background, as far as visibility goes.
Read it Later is an app we've yet to see on any BlackBerry product, but just using it for a little while makes me wish they would have an app for RIM smartphones. As you might expect, the app helps you mark and access stories for viewing elsewhere. Those stories can come from anywhere online, but one common usage is for marking interesting tweets for follow-up. Items can be sent to a "current reading" subsection, so you know what to check out before anything else, and after that, they can be sent to the archive for future reference. In a lot of ways, this is a greeat counterpoint to Pulse News; instead of primarily discovering content with options for following up later, Read it Later lets you catch up on your desktop browsing while on the move.
For those of us who enjoy skirting the sketchier side of the internet, aTorrent is an Android Torrent client that runs just fine on the PlayBook. From within the app, you can launch into Google searches for Torrent downloads, monitor download progress, and launch files that have finished being saved to the PlayBook. It's pretty straightforward, and doesn't have many bells or whistles, but seeing as there are zero alternatives in the PlayBook App World, this is app could be very handy to the right crowd.
Until I started at Mobile Nations just prior to CES 2012, the WordPress blogging console was my top destination after Google Reader. Writing on the PlayBook is a lot more ideal than on the phone, especially if you need to do a bit of research in the browser. WordPress for Android has full support for writing blog posts and pages, moderating comments, and checking traffic stats.
Unfortunately the WordPress app doesn't recognize the PlayBook's cameras, so you can't upload pictures right off the bat, but at least the app's layout scales very nicely to the big screen.
PayPal for Android offers a lot of core, helpful features to shuffle around your balance. You can send money to friends, request money from other PayPal contacts, and move funds to and from registered bank accounts. There's even a handy bill calculator included so you can figure out who owes how much in a split meal with tip.
This one is also available on BlackBerry smartphones, but if you've got a lengthy transaction history, the extra screen real estate comes in handy. Although the UI scales up nicely to the bigger screen, there's no landscape orientation support.
StumbleUpon has been around for a long time, and their app is absolutely perfect for the tablet form factor. With a single swipe, you can be on your way to discovering fresh web content that's tailored to your interests. You can leave feedback on pages that are served up to you, so StumbleUpon can bring better stuff to you in the future. It's particularly great for videos and high-res images, but really, any kind of web content shows up just fine. You can also follow friends and see where their interests take them on the web. The only real formatting issue I've found is a wonky search bar when viewing the home page in portrait orientation, but otherwise, StumbleUpon on the PlayBook is a great way to kill some time.
The official Wikipedia app is actually very new. It's not much more than a recreation of the mobile site, but there are a few additional features that make it better than just saving a home screen bookmark. For one, it saves your history, so you can flip through previous Wikipedia articles - particularly handy for those days you are left wondering how you started with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and ended up in Mesoamerican writing systems. Wikipedia for Android will also let you save pages for later reading, translate articles into different languages, and even launch into a map mode so you can see geotagged articles close to you.
There were a lot of failed attempts to make this list, mind you. Google Maps would have been nice to have, since Bing sucks, but aside from choppy performance, geolocating over Wi-Fi is unreliable, and you can't conduct searches without a crash. Skype launches, but won't let you log in, and similarly, Path opens, but won't connect to refresh your timeline. Path seems to have submitted multiple updates every time I tried to refresh. No dice with Kindle, or Netflix, which are both sorely lacking on the PlayBook's App World.
Most games crash on open, but I did manage to get one mediocre EVE Online-style MUD called The Infinite Black to run. Some apps ran perfectly fine, but either had perfectly fine alternatives already available for the PlayBook, or weren't all that exciting.
It's worth mentioning that Google Voice seemed to work fine, but since I'm in Canada, I didn't really have a chance to test it. Are there any particular apps from the Android Market that you've been enjoying on your newly-jailbroken BlackBerry PlayBook?
Don't listen to AT&T: Your phone isn't going to stop making calls
AT&T customers have been receiving warnings from the carrier saying that their phones will soon stop making calls. That's technically true, but the network change isn't coming until 2022. Here's what you need to know about the transition to VoLTE (HD Voice) on AT&T.