by Al Sacco

Android Apps on BlackBerry PlayBook: More Details, Restrictions

Sep 28, 20113 mins
MobileSmall and Medium BusinessSmartphones

RIM has reportedly announced new details on the restrictions and limitations of its Android App Player for PlayBook, which will allow some Android apps to run on the BlackBerry tablet. And PlayBook owners may be disappointed with the revelations. Here's why.

Last spring, just after Research In Motion (RIM) announced that its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet would run some Android applications via an “Android App Player,” I posted my thoughts on what the news would mean to PlayBook owners. In that post, I cautioned that until RIM made clear what kinds of apps the PlayBook would support, BlackBerry tablet owners shouldn’t get too excited about the potential of the Android App Player.


Today, we’ve learned a few more purported details about the Android App Player for PlayBook restrictions and limitations, and the news could prove to be a letdown for some PlayBook users.

U.K.-based tech news site says RIM representatives announced the new Android App Player information at the Eastern European Mobile Monday Developer Summit’s “Droidcon” event in Romania today. And the Android apps on PlayBook restrictions are as follows:

  • No “live wallpaper”
  • No SIP or SIP VoIP support
  • No applications created using the Android Native Development Kit (NDK)
  • No apps that consist only of home screen “widgets”
  • No apps that “rely” on Google Maps
  • No in-app billing services
  • No support for Android text-to-speech engine
  • No “cloud-to-device” messaging
  • No apps that demand multiple “activities” tied to the Android launcher

The lack of support for Android live wallpaper really doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. And honestly, I’m not 100 percent sure what the last item on the list even means. But the other restrictions could certainly prove to be significant.

No SIP/SIP VoIP means no SIP-based Web-calling applications. No support for Android NDK apps will surely cross off a large number of Android apps from the PlayBook-app-compatibility list. And no widget-only apps means I won’t be able to use any of my battery-gauge- or weather-widgets I use on my Motorola Atrix via Android App Player for PlayBook, along with many other widget apps, etc. No support for apps that use Google Maps is also unfortunate, as that’s my favorite online mapping app.

Bottom line: It looks like a significant number of existing Android apps won’t be compatible with the BlackBerry PlayBook and others will be “crippled” within the App Player.

Then there’s also the fact that nobody outside RIM has any clue when the Android App Player for PlayBook will actually become available—RIM might not even know. The BlackBerry-maker initially promised the App Player last summer, but that never happened. The latest estimates are that it should be available before the end of November or so, though I’m not waiting with bated breath, to put my opinions on the whole situation mildly.