Official: PlayBook Will Run Android Apps

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Android LogoIf not for the previous rumors, this is a crossover that few would have expected.

Research in Motion (RIM) has officially confirmed that the BlackBerry PlayBook, which will run the BlackBerry Tablet OS, will be able to run certain Android apps, forming an intriguing alliance between the two platforms. The Android apps will be made available through RIM’s app world (as opposed to the Android Market) and will run in a secure sandbox. There will also be a pair of optional “app players” that provide the runtime for the Android apps.

There are certain caveats, however, as only apps that will run on Android 2.3 will work, which suggests that many of the tablet-exclusive apps for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) will not work on the PlayBook. Meanwhile, the ones that can run on the PlayBook will do so through an emulation layer and won’t be that deep, though this step does open the door to Android developers to maybe do full ports some time down the road.

BlackBerry PlayBook TabletMaking the Android apps compatible with the PlayBook should be relatively simple for the developers, however, thanks to compatible APIs. According to RIM’s press release, “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.”

Unfortunately, the ability to run Android apps will not be available at the time of the PlayBook’s launch, which is April 19. Instead, RIM will showcase the new App Players and Android Apps at BlackBerry World in Orlando from May 3 to May 5.

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