RIM Demos BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps
Today at BlackBerry DevCon, RIM demonstrated how it easy it is to turn an Android application into one which runs on the PlayBook tablet under PlayBook OS 2.0 and later under the upcoming BBX operating system. On stage, RIM Director Handheld Architecture Rajeev Mohindra and Senior Architect Strategic Initiatives Kamen Vitanov showed three apps that had been successfully ported from Android to PlayBook OS 2.0 without a single code change.
The first ported app Mohindra and Vitanov showed was Pulse, a popular news feed app for Android that shows a mosaic of pictures and headlines of top stories from around the Web. After importing, the application retained key Android features such as a back button and a context menu, but since the PlayBook does not have these buttons built-in, the menu appears only if you swipe up from the top bezel and the back button sits at the bottom of the screen.
They also showed a pool game that uses OpenGL graphics to show 3D balls bouncing around the table. The game appeared to play very smoothly and even provided sound as the cue hit the ball. Mohindra and Vitanov also showed a port of the Android IMDB app, but they were unable to get it to play movies because of a poor Wi-Fi connection.
After they were done demoing the three converted Android apps, Vitanov showed how a developer would convert an Android app for user on the PlayBook. With the app’s source code open in Eclipse, the most common Android development tool, he simply selected BlackBerry Repackaging tool from the file menu. Since the BlackBerry plug-in installs directly into Eclipse, exporting should be a breeze. However, on stage, the export failed.
RIM has now added push support for the BlackBerry Runtime for Android apps. What does this mean? If your Android app uses Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM), when you repackage your app, you can use the Push technology on the BlackBerry 10 platform to provide a similar functionality.
Here are a few more details from the InsideBB Dev Blog on how to create a push-enabled Android app:
1. Register with the BlackBerry Push Service.
2. Create a configuration file for your Android app.
3. Specify Push as a required permission in BAR file’s manifest file.
4. On the push-initiator server side, format the data to be sent to BlackBerry application servers.
For all the details, check out the Android Runtime API Support Page for extended Push API Support.
How do you start using these great new features? Jump to the Runtime for Android Apps microsite. There is an updated 1.4 Beta release for the BlackBerry Eclipse™ Plug-in for Android Development Tools and Command-line tools to help get you using all these new Android Runtime features for the BlackBerry 10 Beta. For the Eclipse users, make sure to point your update site to:
To see what’s coming next, remember to check out the flight arrival board for the all the Runtime for Android App features and tooling releases.