It's official: BlackBerry PlayBook will run Android apps

Research in Motion announced two 'app players' that will run BlackBerry and Android applications on its upcoming PlayBook tablet

The upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet PC will have an interesting and diverse application ecosystem, with significant enterprise, consumer and gaming options coming this summer.

On March 24, Research in Motion announced that the PlayBook will support both BlackBerry Java and Android applications. The ability to run Android apps will significantly increase the volume of apps available to the PlayBook because it will combine the Android Market (200,000-plus apps) and BlackBerry App World (20,000 apps).

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Will the BlackBerry PlayBook run Android apps?

RIM is launching two so-called application players that provide an application runtime environment for BlackBerry Java and Android Version 2.3 (Gingerbread) apps. RIM will also release a software development kit for the PlayBook that will enable the use of C/C++ app development for the operating system.

Developers looking to create apps for Android on PlayBook will be able to port their apps through an application programming interface. The app players can be downloaded from App World and are placed in a sandbox — an area separated from the rest of the data where the apps can be run.

Having specific app players is an interesting model and not one that any other company in the tablet market has done yet. Think of it as a virtual machine on the tablet running another operating system. Android apps are not ideally suited to run on the PlayBook, but they will function well enough. The ability to keep the players separate should ease the minds of executives because they will know that important data stored on the device will be protected from eavesdropping or corruption by applications downloaded from the Android Market.

RIM is giving developers a lot of options to make apps for the PlayBook, especially now with Android in the fold. The PlayBook is made from the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture that the company acquired when it bought QNX in April 2010. The BlackBerry Tablet OS was built from scratch using WebKit and Adobe Flash and will support HTML5 and app development platforms such as BlackBerry WebWorks and Adobe Air.

The PlayBook launches at stores April 19 and starts at $499. The app players will be coming this summer. RIM will share more information at its BlackBerry World conference in Orlando in early May.

About the Author

Dan Rowinski is a staff reporter covering communications technologies.


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