When RIM announced the Blackberry Playbook, it also said that it would support one nifty feature — an Android emulator. It said that the Blackberry Playbook would be able to run Android apps in an emulated run-time environment. This was one of the most highly anticipated features of the Playbook, which would allow Playbook users to use all Android apps on their devices.
Since it was obvious that the Playbook wasn’t going to attract enough developer support to build a large library of apps, this was a nice way to attract consumers by piggy-backing off Android huge app library. However, it wasn’t available when the Playbook launched.
Recently, RIM announced that it would be launching the Blackberry runtime for Android apps soon, hoping to breathe some life into the dying Playbook, which shipped just 200,000 units last quarter to manufacturers.
It was a moment to rejoice, for all users of the Blackberry Playbook around the world — a grand total of around 673. However, some things are just not meant to be. Today, RIM announced some more details about the runtime emulator for Android apps, specifically which features would be unavailable to Android apps running on the emulator.
Here is a laundry list of some significant Android features which will not be supported by the Playbook, rendering certain types of apps useless.
- Apps using live wallpapers
- Apps using SIP and SIP VOIP protocols
- Apps built using the NDK
- Apps containing only app widgets
- Apps containing more than more than one Launcher activity
- Apps using Google Maps
- Apps using in-app billing
- Apps using Android’s text-to-speech engine
- Apps using Android’s cloud-to-device messaging system
We all knew that running Android apps on the emulator in a Playbook was going to be a crappy experience, exactly as running low resolution smartphone apps on a high resolution tablet display using a software emulator ought to be. However, with all these types of apps not supported, you have a significant number of apps which make Android awesome completely incompatible with the Playbook.
There is no reason anyone should want to buy a Blackberry Playbook now, unless RIM does a firesale and starts selling it for $99 like HP.
Screw you, RIM. You messed up the one thing on the Playbook that we looked forward to.