There was disappointment amongst Blackberry Playbook owners after a RIM executive declared the company intended to discontinue Android app side-loading on the firesale tablet. Now the same exec, Alec Saunders, has declared that side-loading will be supported indefinitely on Playbook OS and BB10, with RIM modifying the feature to keep pirates at bay.
Side-loading is an officially-sanctioned means of running Android apps on a Blackberry Playbook. That means doing so won’t involve rooting the tablet or invalidating any warranty. The feature was phased in last year as a ploy aimed at increasing sales of the Playbook. This February RIM feted developers with offers of a free Playbook for anyone willing to convert an Android app to Blackberry’s Playbook OS. Now a RIM press release says, ‘We’re not getting rid of side-loading on the BlackBerry PlayBook OS or in BlackBerry 10.
‘Side-loading on our platform is changing in nature. It exists so that developers can load their apps onto their own devices to test.’
Nevertheless the clarification seems to suggest users will be able to run apps ported from Android for a while yet. Side-loading has attracted criticism because of privacy concerns, with RIM alleging that piracy is a massive problem for Android, also leading RIM to hint that it may follow the Apple and Amazon Kindle Fire path, whereby AppWorld will be the only place users can download apps to a Blackberry device. Thus the next Playbook OS will protect apps with encryption. This encryption will be device-specific so only the original buyer will be able to run the app.
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