First Impressions of Android Apps on the BlackBerry PlayBook #BBWC

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Samurai II PlayBook game
The above is a really awesome 3D game called Samurai II that will be available on the PlayBook. Not an Android app but was showcased during the same keynote and got a great crowd response.

Mike Lazaridis took the stage to showcase some Android apps running on the PlayBook and we were simply blown away. For a long time we were asking ourselves how Android apps would run, and we knew that these apps had to feel native in order to be successful. The demo we saw today showed just that: Android apps running on the PlayBook with a completely native look and feel.

Android apps sit on the PlayBook’s homescreen just like any other app. You tap the icon to open the app and it boots up just as you would see it on an Android tablet. What’s incredible about the way RIM has implemented Android apps is the way they’ve replaced the standard Android Home, Back and Menu buttons with the PlayBook’s swipe gestures. For example, rather than press an Options button, Android apps use the bezel swipe from the top, making the apps, in some ways, better on the PlayBook than on an Android tablet. RIM’s approach to Android apps brings the PlayBook’s unique user experience, which can be described as “swipes” versus other tablets which are more “pokes”.

To download and purchase apps, users can find them in App World just like any other app. According to the demo, Android apps don’t even need any porting to be uploaded. All they’ll need is to be run through the SDK so they’re packaged in the appropriate format, and then deployed in App World. The whole process could take minutes.

The only question that still remains is how the PlayBook will handle those Android apps that use features that are not available on the PlayBook. There may be some API calls or something leveraged by Google that can’t run on the PlayBook and it’s not clear if RIM will simply block those apps or find some way to accomodate. Nonetheless, that’s probably a small number of apps and we’re more curious than concerned.

Although it’s really cliched in the tech industry, we have to say this is a game changer. No other tablet will run apps like the PlayBook does. Stay tuned for more information.