Greg's bite: correction -- PlayBook runs Android apps
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Greg's bite: correction -- PlayBook runs Android apps

By Greg Mills

Sometimes I miss something major, lost in the small print when I do my research. I discovered this morning that I made an understandable error in yesterday's post when I bluntly stated that RIM's soon-to-be-launched, PlayBook would run Android Apps.  

RIM announced with great fanfare on March 24 that PlayBook would be able to run Android apps. Well, that is sort of true, but sort of isn't completely true at this time, maybe ever.  Don't buy a RIM PlayBook based upon the promise of running Android apps.

With all the other "got ya" problems with PlayBook, even stating that it would run Android Apps isn't without major complications. It seems RIM is promising an "Android platform runtime app" (to be released this summer) that will enable Android v2.3 apps that have been specifically "adapted" by their developers for RIM's PlayBook OS to run in a "sandbox" environment. That means the Android apps may not be full featured when run on PlayBook and have to be modified by their developers to even run on PlayBook, at all. Figure those Android apps will be prone to crash or take the PlayBook OS down, as well. 

RIM also promises a Java runtime app to also be released this summer that will allow current BlackBerry apps to run on PlayBook.  That means even BlackBerry apps you already own on your RIM smartphone won't run on RIM's PlayBook. Oops, that sucks.  

The term RIM used, "to be released this summer," as defined by Microsoft's vaporware language code, could mean November of 2013 or even 2014. The promise of running Android apps on PlayBook has a lot of other caveats, it seems. This problem, in addition to the requirement that PlayBook must be tethered via a BlackBerry to work on line, other than via Wi-Fi is incredibly backwards. Even in W-iFi mode, access through PlayBook to secure servers for business use requires a BlackBerry to work. That is just nuts. Who is dumb enough to jump through all those hoops?

Further, Android apps tweaked by their developers to run on PlayBook must be sold only at the RIM store and can't be downloaded at the other Android app stores. The notion that if you get a PlayBook you can freely download and use Android apps found on the web just isn't happening.  It will never happen with the current PlayBook's OS and hardware. Then, let's say RIM actually launches it's Android v2.3 runtime app and Android apps you want to use are one of those tweaked by their developers to run on PlayBook. What happens when the app is updated to Android v2.4? Broken apps, broken dreams, broken PlayBook. 

"Get a Mac" -- iPad, that is. It seems the more you hear about Apple products the better they get.  The more you hear about RIM's PlayBook the worse it gets. It seems like Apple commonly leaves out cool features in its new product  announcements that are "discovered" and information leaks out to keep the publicity steak sizzling. Apple knows how to get billions of dollars of free advertising, and great unannounced features is one of their tricks. RIM doesn't know that trick.  With RIM it is more like waiting for the other shoe to drop on a major blunder in either technology or marketing.

If you are a developer, all this RIM nonsense sounds like a mess you don't need to invest your time in. If you are an enterprise user, the iPad is becoming accepted in more and more major businesses.  If you are a gamer or just want to have a slate computer, RIM's PlayBook isn't a viable contender for you.  

That's Greg's Bite for today.

(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at He can be emailed at


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