Answers to your questions about the application players for BlackBerry Java-based and Android apps

Android Development

BlackBerry PlayBook tablet

On March 24th, we announced some upcoming opportunities for developers to bring their applications to the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet. With information on application players for BlackBerry® Java®-based and Android® apps, as well as additional details for the upcoming BlackBerry® Tablet OS Native SDK, there was a lot for developers to digest.

We have received quite a few questions and wanted to take the opportunity to share these frequently asked questions, along with their answers, with our community. We will do our best to answer your questions and provide additional details as they become available.

If you have additional questions, please let us know in the comments. We’ll continue to update and share the FAQs with you here on the Inside BlackBerry Developer’s Blog:

1. What was announced?
Research In Motion® Limited (RIM®) has announced that it will expand the platforms supported by the BlackBerry Tablet OS by adding two new application players for BlackBerry Java-based and Android apps. This will enable developers to leverage existing assets by allowing supported applications to be easily ported over to the BlackBerry Tablet OS via ‘application players’. RIM has also reinforced its commitment to provide the developer community with a powerful set of tools for native application development on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

2. What is the timing or availability?
The application player for Android apps will be available sometime this summer, followed later in the year by the application player for BlackBerry Java-based apps. The BlackBerry Tablet OS Native SDK will enter into beta this summer. More details will be shared at BlackBerry World™ in May.

3. What are “application players”?
The application players are run-time environments that, once installed on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, allow supported BlackBerry Java-based and Android platform apps to be downloaded and run on the tablet. The players allow end users to run supported apps provided that those supported apps have been submitted and approved through the BlackBerry App World™ storefront.

4. How will users get the apps?
The application players, as well as the supported BlackBerry Java-based and Android apps, will only be available from BlackBerry App World on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

5. Will the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet support the Android Marketplace?
No. Android applications supported by the BlackBerry Tablet OS can only be downloaded from BlackBerry App World. The application player for Android apps can only run supported Android applications that have been signed and submitted to BlackBerry App World.

6. Does the Android application player support Android apps that use native libraries?
The application player will not support any Android applications that use native libraries.

7. What version(s) of the Android apps does the Android application player support?
The application player for Android apps will support Android 2.3 apps at launch and we intend to update the player based on market needs.

8. What version(s) of BlackBerry Java-based apps does the BlackBerry Java-based application player support?
The application player for BlackBerry Java-based apps will allow developers to take their existing assets from BlackBerry 5.0 and BlackBerry 6 development and leverage them in the new player.

9. What do I have to do to port my BlackBerry Java-based and Android apps?
BlackBerry and Android developers of supported applications will be required to re-package and code sign those apps and can then submit them to BlackBerry App World. In some cases developers will have to recompile their apps.

10. Will the performance of my app suffer because it’s running inside a player?
We do not anticipate any performance issues from applications running on the application players.

11. Should I stop my current BlackBerry PlayBook development and wait until this is ready?
Developers should continue building with the existing BlackBerry PlayBook development options, including BlackBerry® WebWorks™ and Adobe® Flash® and Adobe® AIR® BlackBerry Tablet SDKs to take advantage of the richest set of APIs, background processing capabilities, and extended services via the BlackBerry tools.

12. What is the BlackBerry Tablet OS Native SDK? What does it allow?
The BlackBerry Tablet OS Native SDK will allow developers to build high-performance, multi-threaded, native C/C++ applications with industry standard GNU toolchains. The BlackBerry Tablet OS Native SDK also allows developers to:

  • Create advanced 2D and 3D applications and special effects by leveraging programmable shaders available in hardware-accelerated OpenGL ES 2.0
  • Take advantage of the QNX POSIX library support and C/C++ compliance for quick and easy porting of applications built in POSIX-based environments
  • Integrate device events like gesture swipes and touch screen inputs
  • Integrate the BlackBerry Tablet OS environment into existing code management and build systems using industry standard Eclipse CDT (C/C++ Development Tools)
  • Leverage work done in standard C/C++ to make it easier to bring applications to the BlackBerry Tablet OS
  • Find and fix bugs quickly with provided debug and analysis tools

We are very excited about the opportunities that are opening up for developers on our tablet and smartphone platforms. With millions of smartphone users and a remarkable level of excitement for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, from consumers and enterprise, we know developers are primed to bring innovative and exciting applications to the BlackBerry platform.

Please join RIM at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando on May 3-5, 2011, where we will share more information on our evolving platform.

About Mike Kirkup

Mike Kirkup is the Director for the Developer Relations program at Research In Motion (RIM), which is responsible for managing the technical relationships and programs for RIM’s developer community worldwide. Mike and his team work with RIM’s developer community to provide support and guidance as developers work to integrate their applications to the BlackBerry platform. Mike joined RIM in 2001 as a Security Software Developer in RIM’s Wireless Security Group. As part of the Wireless Securty group, Mike contributed to the development of the BlackBerry Cryptography API, S/MIME and PGP implementations. Mike holds a Masters of Management Science and a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo.

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