Last week, I published a post here on mobility about my first impressions of the Blackberry Playbook. In that post, I promised to do a follow up on installing apps, especially Android apps. I have had quite a bit more time to play with the tablet and in this post, I’ll discuss my experience while trying to get apps onto the device.
I am not what you would call App crazy. I can make do with a modest selection of apps. Even on myAndroid phone where I supposedly have access to 500,000 apps, the apps installed on it are pretty few. So, the fact that the Playbook has considerably less apps available on its App World hasn’t really been a deal breaker for me. I however, went in not expecting to find any app even remotely useful and I was pleasantly surprised at what I found.
The Playbook App World
Compared to other App stores such as the iTunes store and Google Play, the Playbook App World doesn’t stand a chance but it is not quite the graveyard that it has been made out to be. I found some useful apps in there such as
- Dolphin Browser HD
- You Version Bible
- QR Scanner
- Photo Studio, etc.
Granted, a number of these apps are actually android apps converted to work on the playbook but they are present in the app store and work really well so no one’s complaining.
As mentioned above, a number of android apps are available for installation directly from the Playbook App World. These apps have been modified appropriately by their publishers for the playbook. There is no way to know if an app is actually an android app on the App World until after installation. Even then, it is only when the app is launched that the user might notice some android UI elements and also the fact that all android apps run in an app player.
All the android apps I installed from the App World worked without a hitch. The same cannot be said, however, for Android apps not found on the App World.
Finding Android apps for the playbook
Before installing the android apps, one has to first find said apps. No, unfortunately, you cannot just copy an apk file into the playbook and install it from there. Instead, the apk has to be converted to a “.bar” file using a decidedly convoluted method. I never tried to do this myself and it turns out, I actually don’t need to. Lots of good folks on the Internet have converted virtually every popular android app over to the playbook compatible “.bar” format. The trick however, is finding these files.
I spent a good while searching for these elusive .bar files, leading me to questionable locations such as mediafire and fileserve. I was however, able to get .bar files for a few applications from there.
Just as I was about giving up, I stumbled upon an Android apps Playbook App store. Yes, you read right. There is an app store for the playbook that specializes in android apps converted to work on the playbook. This app store is curated by goodereader and can be found here. From there, I was able to install several useful apps such as
- Moon+ Reader
- Twitter for Android
- Aldiko eReader
- Pulse, etc.
So, how exactly do you install these Android apps?
Like i mentioned earlier, android apps on the playbook have to be converted to the “.bar” file format. This “.bar” file still cannot just be installed from the playbook. It has to be installed from a PC. There is a simple and straight forward method to do this and instead of going into that here, just check it out from the experts.
The playbook has a quite a number of apps, but much like the Blackberry Phone OS, a lot of the good ones are paid apps and even that is limited. I therefore feel that adding the ability to run android apps on the playbook was a very good move on the part of RIM as it gives their users who are concerned with the lack of apps on the device a little more choice, provided they have the time to explore it.
Not all the android apps I installed worked flawlessly, but they mostly did. I am, therefore, at this moment, quite satisfied with the apps I have installed on my Blackberry Playbook.