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Blackberry Android Emulation (Games) Software

RIM Confirms Android Apps Will Run On Playbook, Through Intermediate Players 113

Posted by timothy
from the when-fruit-meets-robot-companion dept.
angry tapir writes "Research In Motion has announced that users of its PlayBook tablet will be able to run Android and Java applications. The PlayBook, which becomes available on April 19, will have two optional 'app players' that will provide run-time environments for BlackBerry Java apps and Android 2.3 apps. The players will let users download BlackBerry Java Apps and Android Apps from BlackBerry App World."
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RIM Confirms Android Apps Will Run On Playbook, Through Intermediate Players

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  • Quality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by exomondo (1725132) on Friday March 25, 2011 @12:53AM (#35608178)
    I wonder how the quality of the BB ecosystem will go over time though, sure it's a boon to have access to all the Android apps but will people develop native PlayBook apps knowing that they could just develop an Android one that runs on the PB *and* on Android devices?
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      I think the 2.3 limitation may give them a little lead time. The vast majority of Android devices out there right now are 22.1 and 2.2. Devs probably won't want to toss such a large potion of the user base.
      • Re:Quality (Score:5, Informative)

        by TD-Linux (1295697) on Friday March 25, 2011 @01:00AM (#35608210)
        No, when they support the 2.3 API (revision 10), they also support all API versions below that. In fact, Google encourages developers to target the lowest possible API level to support needed features, to maximize compatibility.
        • by Nerdfest (867930)
          I think I misunderstood the summary ... it would have been more clear if they'd said 'up to 2.3'. This is what I get for posting early in the morning.
      • Don't forget that for you to be able to load an app, it HAS to be from the BlackBerry Store. Even if it's an Android app. No side loading one yourself. No downloading from Amazon or the Android store.

        So you can ONLY download an Android app if:
        -it's designed for use on a phone [no Android tablet apps]
        -the developer has signed up as a BlackBerry developer, signed and faxed the various documents to them, then uploaded their app to the store
        -RIM has approved their app for sale

        Somehow, I don't think most of t

        • by narcc (412956)

          Don't forget that for you to be able to load an app, it HAS to be from the BlackBerry Store

          Sorry, where did you run across this? You've been able to load apps of all sorts from virtually any source on BB for years -- why would this change on the PB?

          I've been following this pretty closely, and RIM has certainly not mentioned anything remotely like this.

          No, I don't believe a word of this. Your post is FUD, plain and simple.

          • Re:Quality (Score:4, Informative)

            by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Friday March 25, 2011 @01:52AM (#35608410)
            It's a pity Slashdot linked to some pay-per-click summary instead of the actual press release [rim.com].

            Developers will simply repackage, code sign and submit their BlackBerry Java and Android apps to BlackBerry App World. Once approved, the apps will be distributed through BlackBerry App World, providing a new opportunity for many developers to reach BlackBerry PlayBook users. Users will be able to download both the app players and the BlackBerry Java and Android apps from BlackBerry App World.

            At least for Android, it sounds pretty clear that they're cutting Google's store out of the picture.

            • Yeah. It's possibly that RIM might enable you to side load it for end-users, but the press release makes it sound like RIM wants their 30%...

              I really hope RIM lets developers side-load Android apps for debugging as the "high-degree of compatibility" should keep developers on their toes. This should also boost early sales of the Playbook.

              And I wonder how running 2 different Java VM's along with separate native apps have on battery life...

              • I wonder how running 2 different Java VM's along with separate native apps have on battery life...

                It's possible they don't use Dalvik at all but have adapted their existing JVM to exhibit multiple personalities for both their existing Java ME applications and Android.

                e.g. Implementing class libraries for both Java ME and Android but running on the same virtual machine architecture may reduce the footprint through shared libraries.

                • by Dog-Cow (21281)

                  Dalvik bytecode isn't the same as Java byecode. If they use one executable to handle both, it's effectively 2 VMs anyway.

                  • the bytecode might not be identical but is sufficiently interoperable. Volunteer developers from the IcedRobot project have in a matter of weeks produced a java classloader to dynamically run a hello world application directly from a dalvik dex file with an eventual goal of running the entire android API minus dalvik VM.
                    i.e. Unmodified Android app binaries running atop a regular jvm.

            • by narcc (412956)

              Thanks for that. I should have checked out the original source first

              Still, it sounds like the signing process is just for App World. I just can't imagine that they'd do something as stupid as to only allow Android apps via App World. As it stands now, on just about any current BB smartphone, you can install any app you want from your computer, the web, or (at least in OS 6) from an SD card.

              The walled-garden approach would be a huge mistake for RIM.

              • It depends on how Android apps on QNX actually work.

                (1) If they've ported dalvik from Linux to QNX then dex binaries might work unmodified from the Google App Store.

                (2) If they've adapted their existing JVM, a translation from dex back to standard java bytecode may be required. (Android translates java bytecode into a special format for execution on dalvik)

                The second scenario imposes a technical limitation on repackaging an app for BB. The IcedRobot project is using a special Java classloader, 'Daneel', to

          • by ArhcAngel (247594)

            You've been able to load apps of all sorts from virtually any source on BB for years -- why would this change on the PB?

            Well RIM has to adapt to the new business model that Apple has made so successful. Blackberry has had apps for at least ten years but it was difficult to find certain apps because each ISV had to market their software individually. Hanadango [handango.com] (founded in 1999) capitalized on that problem starting in 2003 for the Symbian [wikipedia.org] platform and adding new platforms as they materialized.

            Add to that the fact that the PlayBook is running QNX [wikipedia.org] and not legacy BB OS and it's not hard to see them making it difficult to install

            • by narcc (412956)

              Well RIM has to adapt to the new business model that Apple has made so successful.

              Er, I don't know that "screwing the user" is the best lesson to take from Apple's success -- I mean, what is there to gain by making it more difficult for users to load apps on their devices?

              RIM is the #2 smartphone manufacturer in the world (Nokia is #1). In 2010, Blackberry was the best selling smartphone brand in the US, Canada, Latin America, and the UK.

              But somehow forcing their users into a walled garden will suddenly make them more successful? I don't get it.

    • by afidel (530433)
      Uh, not sure if you've ever used a Blackberry but there's almost no apps available for it currently despite the fact that it has the largest installed base of all smartphones. I installed more useful apps the first day I had my Android phone than I had in the previous five years of owning an array of Blackberries.
      • I support Blackberry's all the time. RIM has a great business model in how they cater to their corporate base users. Their OS however leaves much to be desired. It would not suprise me if they (at some point in the future) move to a core Android OS running a Blackberry framework to maintain the GUI, BES, and BIS functionality.

        • by tycoex (1832784)

          This would actually be really cool. A blackberry phone running Android as it's OS.

          • Such a device would also have full Exchange support without having to have fscking BES. That would be amazing. The only reason we buy Blackberries is because of their international roaming rates, not the devices themselves.. which are generally awful.

            • by ArhcAngel (247594)

              Such a device would also have full Exchange support without having to have fscking BES. That would be amazing.

              That would be amazingly awful. There is a reason companies go with RIM's solution and it has everything to do with the BB/BES (client/server). For starters it is so secure not even your companies IT department or RIM itself can easily intercept data (They can still get to it easily on the Exchange server). Add to that the near bulletproof reliability (yes there have been notable exceptions and they are so noted) compared to Activesync (goes down at least once a month here) and the fact I frequently get ema

              • We've never had a problem with DirectPUSH/ActiveSync here. We did however have a problem with BES not playing nicely with the DNS server. Likewise whenever I've left DirectPUSH active on any of my phones, they beep before Outlook gets new mail. Anecdotal evidence is pretty pointless.

                Any IT dept can "easily intercept data" just by logging into your Exchange account. IT in fact need to be able to access employees' email if someone is off sick, dies, whatever. Acting as if your IT dept is somehow your enemy is

        • by narcc (412956)

          It would not suprise me if they (at some point in the future) move to a core Android OS

          I doubt it. RIM bought QNX [wikipedia.org] last year which will debut on the PlayBook. Rumor has it that RIM will adapt the OS for use on their upcoming line of smartphones, putting an end to their aging OS.

    • I wonder how the quality of the BB ecosystem will go over time though, sure it's a boon to have access to all the Android apps but will people develop native PlayBook apps knowing that they could just develop an Android one that runs on the PB *and* on Android devices?

      It depends how well they can get the device to run Android apps. Android is all open source, so they could probably just use a lot of the Android code outright -- which means that the Android apps will effectively be running natively on Blackberry devices. At that point there might be some small advantage to a native app vs. an Android app, but it's got to be smaller than the benefit of having all the Android apps that never would have had native Blackberry versions.

    • The store will immediately get spammed by fart apps, e-books, calendar apps and all sorts of usual crapware. To have lots of mediocre apps might actually be a problem, users might bump into series of bad apps and overall experience is made worse. This move also discourages serious developers as they would need to compete with all the gimmicky devs. Hopefully the native BB apps will have another section in the App World store just to set them apart.
    • will people develop native PlayBook apps knowing that they could just develop an Android one that runs on the PB *and* on Android devices?

      Very likely. There are two official frameworks for PlayBook apps. One is HTML5 - and this is easily made portable to iPad right now, and those upcoming webOS tablets shortly. Another is Adobe AIR, and the attractive thing about it is that there are many existing developers and designers familiar with it, which can now apply their skills directly on a mobile platform with first-class support (as opposed to, say, AIR on Anrdoid).

    • I wonder how the quality of the BB ecosystem will go over time though, sure it's a boon to have access to all the Android apps but will people develop native PlayBook apps knowing that they could just develop an Android one that runs on the PB *and* on Android devices?

      I think this was one of IBM's mistakes with OS/2 Warp. It ran Win3.1 and DOS apps so well that no-one made native apps for OS/2.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yes they will if they want to make better programs than the competition - and they will have to do that. however it'll be interesting which vm is fastest on the device.

  • Sideloading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday March 25, 2011 @12:53AM (#35608180)
    I hope they're not afraid of a little competition and allow side-loading and other app stores. It's be a shame to see yet another device that you don't really own.
    • by tooyoung (853621)

      I hope they're not afraid of a little competition and allow side-loading and other app stores. It's be a shame to see yet another device that you don't really own.

      Like the Wii, PS3, X-Box, and the various handhelds?

  • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Friday March 25, 2011 @12:56AM (#35608188)

    Doing this gives Blackberry devices a chance to compete on merit instead of on how many apps they have. And it gives developers a unified target for app development -- make an Android app and it will run on both Android devices and Blackberries, which strengthens both platforms at the expense of their other competitors.

    This is what Nokia should have done.

    • Amen. The question becomes how they are going to handle sideloading and competing markets. That recent Slasdot story about the guy trying to register & develop for them sounded like a nightmare.

      /Also, I'm in no way biased. :)
      • >>The question becomes how they are going to handle sideloading and competing markets.

        If you read the story, you'd know why it's not an issue.

        YOu can't use the android market.

        Apps have to be repackaged for BB.

        • See that sounds like an issue to me as a developer. All these different stores, with different approval processes, is far from ideal. Anyways I did read it but things change. My hope was that a lackluster number of Android developers willing to repackage their app for one specific device would make them rethink the policy. If they make it too much of a hassle they will end up with the same 1000 apps that you can get on any device. Netflix, Pandora, Where, NYTimes, NPR, Angry birds, etc. Which to me s
        • by Rennt (582550)

          YOu can't use the android market.

          RIM don't have a choice on that one. Google wouldn't license the Market to them.

          I can't see any reason why a common app store couldn't be used by both platforms though. Don't forget there are already a handful of competing app stores on Android. It would be a big competitive boost for one of these to support Android + BB. Unless RIM blocks side loading (for the app store app itself) I can't see this NOT happening.

    • Doing this gives Blackberry devices a chance to compete on merit instead of on how many apps they have.

      What merits? The android apps run in what amounts to an emulator. And they have to be repackaged to do so. And no Honeycomb apps. (You know, those apps that are actually designed for a tablet.) They are only now releasing the "real" SDK, so native apps are a long way off. I can't imagine who besides a BB lover would want to buy one now.

    • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:34AM (#35609180)

      Doing this gives Blackberry devices a chance to compete on merit instead of on how many apps they have. And it gives developers a unified target for app development -- make an Android app and it will run on both Android devices and Blackberries, which strengthens both platforms at the expense of their other competitors.

      Seems like a poor idea to me as it means developers won't specifically target the playbook, instead relying on their existing Android developments.

      OS/2 suffered the same problem with it's Windows compatibility. No-one actually wrote anything for it as they just targetted Windows instead knowing that it running on OS/2 was an addition benefit.

      Whilst it may mean they get access to hundreds of applications immediately, the longer they leave it, the more dependent they are on maintaining compatibility with Android in order for their platform to succeed - and they could have got themselves into that mess far cheaper and easier by just releasing an Android tablet.

      • OS/2 suffered the same problem with it's Windows compatibility. No-one actually wrote anything for it as they just targetted Windows instead knowing that it running on OS/2 was an addition benefit.

        That is the frequently cited reason for OS/2 having few native apps, but I don't believe it. Windows95 ran DOS apps. OSX ran MacOS apps. Playstation1 compatibility didn't stop developers from writing games for PS2. Being able to keep their old apps after making the transition helped all those platforms immense

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          3rd party programs and hardware support.
          those are the reasons we ditched os/2 at home after a short while - and you know what, it didn't actually multitask up to it's reputation that much better than win32. and finding free programs was actually a bitch. which is actually what j2me and bb's java are pretty good for, finding some small programs to do some small thing, exotic unit converters for example and android support helps with this too.

          however! the most interesting thing here is that they're proposing

    • I disagree. This is an admission of defeat. This move will drain any and all remaining motivation from developers to develop native BB apps. Why develop an app for BB (and iOS and Android) when you can just focus your effort on iOS and Android? Yes, it's good for Android, which I'm sure many people here will love, but it pretty much spells the death of BB as an OS - desire to develop apps for BB will vanish which will lead to it's demise.

      Now, if Blackberry intends on becoming just a hardware company, than
    • The big problem BB has is that competing on merit will leave it bankrupt in short order. I've had several for work and they are the worst POS phones (from a usability standpoint). I'll grant they are tough, but a tough POS is still a POS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 25, 2011 @01:02AM (#35608220)

    Since its introduction, it has taken the world by storm. Applications run perfectly anywhere.
    Write once. Run on Mac, Windows, Linux. Works great. Threads, networking. And it is
    also very secure as applications are sandboxed.

    Combined with XML, RMI, JB, servlets, SWING, ACID, JVM, WORA, API, JRE, JEE,
    JIT, JDK, CORBA, IIOP, JDBC, AWT, NIO, etc. it offers a powerful environment.
    And it is object oriented that is OO!

    And pretty much all universities teach it. Did you know even Oracle is partly written
    in Java, it has improved their product tremendously! All desktop computers com
    with Java preinstalled - working perfectly. And most applications these days
    are also in Java - if nothing else this should prove its superiority.

    Also java made everything simple. They banished unsigned types. Thread
    based networking, very slim runtime, easy web applets that are everywhere
    these days, everything is an Object, no memory corruption/crashes so even
    a monkey can write code (you don't need to know what you're doing
    to be a java programmer, isn't that great), take threads, so easy anyone
    is encouraged to add them into their application. Java code is also
    very easy to read but still very compact.

    The creators of Java did the industry a great service. I salute them!

  • There's no way Android apps could possible run on some intermediate (or shall we say virtual) machine.
  • With iOS app player, PlayBook can be the real iphone killer :)

  • Clever (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ieatcookies (1490517) on Friday March 25, 2011 @01:38AM (#35608358)
    Wise choice
  • by LodCrappo (705968) on Friday March 25, 2011 @02:25AM (#35608502) Homepage

    We've seen this strategy before (sort of) in OS/2.. running your competitors software seems like a good thing when you don't have much native software, but in the end it just undermines the market for native software and leads to the obvious question of why someone wouldn't just buy your competitors platform in the first place.
    Maybe RIM will be able to provide enough unique value to maintain sales, they do have a massive presence in the business world. OTOH, IBM had a pretty big influence in business computing and OS/2 had a lot of unique capabilities.

    Maybe they figured they were screwed anyway and this is just a move to extend the platform's life a while longer.

    • If Android apps run just as well on Playbook and (via IcedRobot or Myriad Alien) Meego, Bada or WebOS, then you have the advantage of the native ecosystem + android.

      Each of these niche OSes compete on various strengths - their challenge is to create a compelling Ux (User eXperience, as seems the term in vogue) on which to host native apps. If the native environment provides a nicer, more intuitive shell than the stock Android from Google then you're getting a superset of functionality.

      e.g. Wine on Gnome/KDE

      • by LodCrappo (705968)

        That's a really big "if". Historically operating systems that attempt to run other platform's applications tend to do a more or less crap job of it.

        I'd be more interested to see an Android device from RIM where they have ported/adapted the good things about the blackberry platform (which does not include running it's apps :), rather than a blackberry where they've tacked on part of Android.

    • by shmlco (594907)

      "...leads to the obvious question of why someone wouldn't just buy your competitors platform in the first place."

      Right. "See this, it's the new RIM PlayBook and it can run Android apps!"

      "Cool! So I just go to the Android Marketplace and... what?"

      "Well. No. It will run some Android apps. Sort of. If they've been ported to the Dingleberry App World and..."

      "Stop. If I want to run Android apps, why don't I just buy an Android?"

      • by LodCrappo (705968)

        yep.. sounds like RIM's approach with Android apps is a lot like the way OS/2 ran Windows programs, but only certain programs, and not quite as easily as Windows did. expect the same issues with compatibility and lack of full functionality to come up here.
        for instance, will the playbook support android widgets on its home screen? that's a huge advantage of the android platform imho. also, will you be able to share data between android apps using the share button and/or the filesystem like you can on a

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          it wouldn't be that difficult if google didn't withhold the sources.

          android on qnx kernel though, that would be an interesting experiment(their bionic library solution actually might make such a port simplish).

    • by gordguide (307383)

      " ... We've seen this strategy before (sort of) in OS/2.. running your competitors software seems like a good thing when you don't have much native software, but in the end it just undermines the market for native software and leads to the obvious question of why someone wouldn't just buy your competitors platform in the first place. ..."

      I think the idea is that your platform has some advantage to users or functionality that the "other" platform doesn't, and so the incentive is there for users to choose tha

  • When you think about it, the tablet situation can only end in one way. There can be only one major platform in the end. Sure, you will have you niche products, but developers dont want to develop for 3 or 4 competing platforms. It costs time and money to do it.
    This is what RIM understands. This is why they built in support for Android Apps, and too be honest, it just makes sense.

    Looks, we all love apple products right? (I personally hate the company and wont give them a dime, but hey, I do like the product)

    • by shmlco (594907)

      "BUT, and it's a big but, who stands to make money from Apple products in the long run? Apple. Who else? Ah...Apple?"

      You do remember that moment in the iPad 2 announcement when Steve announced that Apple has paid out two billion dollars to iOS developers, right?

      • by pablo_max (626328)

        You do know that two billion does not hold a candle to the combined sales of every other hardware maker in the world right?

        • You do know that two billion does not hold a candle to the combined sales of every other hardware maker in the world right?

          I think if anyone else distributing applications for mobile devices had paid an amount anywhere remotely near two billion dollars to developers, we would have heard about it. We haven't.

        • by Combatso (1793216)
          You do know its counter productive to answer sarcastic questions with another sarcastic question right?
        • by robus (852325)

          They're not hardware makers any more - they're hardware designers that outsource manufacturing to Chinese and Taiwanese contractors - (in fact the same people Apple use) - and mostly outsource software to Google (we'll see what comes of WebOS - but seeing how HP missed the opportunity to get behind consumer Unix in the past I'm not hopeful).

          Apple at least control their destiny on software and are locking up hardware supplies to control that too... The rest are left scrambling for scraps...

    • Apple never entered this market to be the majority player. Being majority comes with plague (stupid users doing stupid things and ruining the fun for everyone). Mac OS X is already at a tipping point, where clueless users are buying Macs because sales people advertize it as easy to use, no viruses or problems of any kind. Actually Mac users are the most polarized bunch of all computer user sets. You have alpha geeks and clueless fucks using it and very little in between.

      I think it's much better to fill a ni
    • by robus (852325)

      Here's the weird thing about hardware manufacturing - it's pretty much all contracted out to third parties - meaning Apple (unlike Nintendo say - who are an anachronism) have access to pretty much the entire tablet manufacturing capacity of the planet. This is very different from when Apple (and HP and whoever else - seems most computer manucturers are gone) had their own factories that limited their capacity.

      So the other tablet "manufacturers" are competing with Apple for those resources - except Apple is

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      **There can be only one major platform in the end.**

      what is this end you speak of? 2012? or perhaps 2032? that there will be one dominant end platform is an investor day dream, of an investor who was born yesterday. platforms come and go. operating systems come and go. stupid ui fashions come and go, sdk's come and go, middleware vm's come and go. code styles come and go. chipsets come and go. companies and their assets come and go and get sold and resold.

      but rock'n'roll is forever and some things last long

    • by shmlco (594907)

      "They want to tie their SW to only their hardware."

      I think some people are going to be very, very surprised in the very near future.

  • So if it can run Android and Java, its first game should be lawyers who can never die trying to waste each other...might call it something like "Oracle Vs. Google".
    • The difference being that BB licensed Java. Google did not.

      • The difference being that BB licensed Java. Google did not.

        I see you've already created a weapon for my proposed "game": A legal logic bomb, wherein one side's lawyers claim that something is "open" and available for one and all to use - and then when the game's opposing lawyers permit their side to use it, it blows right the hell up.

        The blood...the gore...the squandered wealth...

        Lovely idea.

  • This is a great move for opening up the mobile market, and preventing unnecessary vendor lock-in. Right now people buy closed hardware because they like the closed apps that developers have written for the ecosystem. But when you can start to mix and match hardware and software, you'll be able to buy the device that you want and still get the apps that you want. It also reduces the overhead for developers, will bring business apps to android, and brings an app ecosystem to RIM. Great move!

  • by sootman (158191)

    They're just doing this so they can claim that it runs tons of apps.

    Are these the words of a cynical, Android-hating, iPhone-loving twit? No, they are words of RIM's CEO. [businessinsider.com]

    "You've got the volume of the handset apps, so if you're looking for the tonnage of apps, or some kind of long tail stuff, you've got it. At the end of the day, people are going to want performance. You're just not going to get things like gaming and multimedia, you're not going to get the speed going through a VM interface."

    Also note that

  • If Blackberry plays their cards right, this could be the best tablet on the market. You could get Blackberry's reputation for integration and security in a corporate environment, Android's plethora of apps, flash support, and maybe, just maybe Netflix would make a Blackberry native app since it can have DRM. The iPad lacks Flash. Android lacks Netflix. Playbook might be the answer to both of these problems.

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