Sideloading Android apps to the Blackberry PlayBook

A little more than a year ago RIM, the maker of the Blackberry PlayBook, announced an incentive. Build an app, get a free PlayBook. I took them up on the chance and scored one of these great tablets. The problem was that there wasn't enough apps out there. Slowly, interest in the PlayBook died down and has been mostly dormant since then. Then, this month RIM released version 2.0 of their OS which included some significant improvements including the ability to run Android apps on the PlayBook. With that one announcement, and subsequent implementation, RIM's app catalog went from the thousands into the tens of thousands. Now it's not perfect, you can't take just any Android app and install it on the PlayBook. But you can convert the APK file to a BAR file and go to town. In this post I'm going to show you how to take a BAR file that has already been converted and install it.

While this process is easy, there are a few steps involved...for PC users. First, make sure your PlayBook is upgraded to OS2.0. Second you'll need to download and install the DDPB installer. This sets up Android apps on your PlayBook with a few clicks. Once that's done you'll need to make sure your PlayBook is set to Development Mode. Use the picture below as a reference.

Next, you need an app. The website GoodEReader has a list of existing Android apps that have already been converted so we'll start there. Let's look at two that I've been looking forward to on the PlayBook. The Kindle app, and a Twitter app. There is no native Kindle app, and the Twitter apps that DO exist for the PlayBook leave much to be desired. Download the BAR file for the app of your choice.

Next up, the app install process. Fire up DDPB, you should see a screen like below.

With your PlayBook connected to your computer, follow these steps.

  1. Press the scan button. This will determine the IP address of your PlayBook.
  2. Input the password for your device (you set this up when you turned on Development Mode), then click Connect.
  3. Click the Add button, then browse to the BAR file for the app you want to install.
  4. Click the Install button, then wait until the installer is finished.

Once you're done, you should see something like this. The installed app gets it's own icon on the home screen just like any other app.

One nice thing about running these apps is that the Android player has it's own background processes. If you install and run more than one of these apps you'll see icons in the lower right hand corner of the screen which allow you to toggle between currently running apps.

So there you have it. Go ask your favorite Android app developers to convert their apps to PlayBook. Good luck and let me know how it went for you in the comments.