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RIM Changes Stance On PlayBook's Android Support 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-changed-our-mind dept.
hypnosec writes "It hasn't been long since the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion announced that its QNX based tablet device, the PlayBook, will be supporting Android implementation on it. However, it has been revealed now that a sizable portion of Android apps will be cut off from running on the moderately successful tablet device. The news thus leads us to a situation where Android developers might not be interested anymore in coming up with new apps for the QNX powered gadget. The Android apps that won't be working in the PlayBook include Android Live Wallpapers; apps that contain more than one activity tied to the launcher, the Android text-to-speech engine, and Android cloud-to-device messaging service, amongst a few others."
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RIM Changes Stance On PlayBook's Android Support

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  • by jmorris42 (1458) *

    The limitations are pretty obvious, ya know? Without access to the closed source bits of Android RIM isn't going to be able to support some parts of the Google APIs and unless they want to turn the home screen over to Android, in which case it becomes an Android device that runs RIM apps, wallpapers and home screen widgets are probably out.

    Of course this throws the hybrid model of Android into sharp relief. It ain't Open Source and it sure as heck ain't Free Software.

    • This doesn't explain "apps that contain more than one activity tied to the launcher".

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I am confused about whether running Android means a device is open. I am thinking the Kindle Fire could make a really neat remote control for my PVR, maybe as simple as remoting Nautilus from the PVR onto the tablet (on tablet, run ssh -X mypvr nautilus). Are those sorts of things possible?
  • It was always clear since the announcement that the android apps would be running inside a dedicated android runtime. like running it in a VM.

    why is anyone surprised that a vm client cannot affect the wallpaper on the host?
  • by mattcsn (1592281) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @07:58PM (#37561418)

    I thought we were talking about "a moderately successful tablet device", not "a near-total failure".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hey, RIM paid good money for this slashvertisement shut up and buy their products.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      My thoughts exactly. "Moderately successful devices" don't have their price slashed 40% in their first six months of life. Are they even turning a profit at this new price point?

      • by woolpert (1442969)

        Are they even turning a profit at this new price point?

        The Playbook does not need to make money. It needs to keep RIM in the corporate conversation long enough for them to make a more compelling argument for their existence. It is a placeholder to keep attention on their real product - the Blackberry brand name.

        To make the classic car analogy, it is like when Honda started selling rebadged Isuzu Troopers (Honda Passport). They didn't do it to make money, they did it so they had a "me too!" product on the

        • by artor3 (1344997)

          That's a reasonable explanation, but it will only work for so long. Does RIM have anything compelling on the horizon?

        • by Hadlock (143607)

          You mean "continuing the product, because canceling the Playbook at this point would torpedo what's left of shareholder value"?

          Granted, the Blackberry name is a strong one, but every phone they release causes their stock price to drop due to low confidence that they will produce a next-gen phone. The Blackberry platform is incredible.... for 2005. By 2009 my 2007 model Curve looked woefully outdated, and 2011 models don't look a whole lot different from my 2007 model blackberry. Between the choice o

          • by GNious (953874)

            For work-work, I'd prefer my Blackberry 9000, if it wasn't insanely unstable (only surpassed by HTC phones!) - nothing else I've seen is able to keep up on that front.
            Our corporate rules state that we can choose between Blackberry or Nokia (to force people to use BB?), while exec team can use iPhone ... and I've seen execs go back to their BB after finding that their iPhone just wasnt good enough.

            I think it is a question of use-pattern, but current "smart-phones" just doesn't seem to be up to it, when it co

        • The Playbook does not need to make money. It needs to keep RIM in the corporate conversation long enough for them to make a more compelling argument for their existence.

          How do you keep a company in the "corporate conversation" by naming a product with "Play" prominently in the title, and focusing on media consumption in advertising and demonstration?

          Your paragraph is something RIM needed to read before they hit the drawing boards - or the boardroom.

        • by aclarke (307017)

          To make the classic car analogy, it is like when Honda started selling rebadged Isuzu Troopers (Honda Passport). They didn't do it to make money, they did it so they had a "me too!" product on their lot during the peak of the SUV wars while they scrambled to make the real product (the CR-V and then the Pilot).

          This is OT, but the Isuzu Trooper was rebadged as the Acura SLX. The Isuzu Rodeo was rebadged as the Honda Passport.

    • by mgblst (80109)

      Maybe RIM could release some numbers, then we would know. That is a pretty good sign right there. Samsung will release the numbers of its galaxy 2, because it is doing well, but no word on its tablet, because it is not doing well. It is not rocket science people.

  • by migla (1099771)

    Sure, it sound like the opposite of open to cull features, but is this a question of even less software freedom or just about different non-free features?

    I recently had my first encounter with Android and motherfuck! There were icons on the thing that I could not remove. That's not like any gnu/linux I've known.

    • by Kenja (541830)
      There are no icons you can not remove, however you may need root access to do it. Such applications are installed by your service provider and are part of the contract with them. If you dont like it, you are free to install a different version of the OS or find a different service provider.
      • by migla (1099771)

        This is not the service providers doing. Apparently it's sony ericssons custom shenanigans for the x10 mini (pro). I was miffed at the non-freedom out of the gate.

        It's not my phone and I only had a few minutes with it. Maybe I'll look into the possibility of removing the icons at some point. After a quick glance at the Internet, alternative firmware seems sub-optimal for the device in question at this point in time.

        My point was poorly made, but while my example of unremovable icons is not an example of the

    • Because it's not really GNU/Linux. It uses the Linux kernel and that's about it. Most the user land stuff is BSD or Apache stuff and non-free. Not to say Android is bad, if you are looking for a GNU/Linux phone, look elsewhere.
      • by migla (1099771)

        >if you are looking for a GNU/Linux phone, look elsewhere.

        I did. About 3 years ago. I found the n900. It suits me fine still.

        The phone with the icons I was complaining about wasn't mine, just a phone with Android I had an encounter with.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    At first it sounds like a facepalm move, but then you get to what they didn't bother implementing:

    The Android apps which wonâ(TM)t be working in the QNX based tablet device includes Android Live Wallpapers;

    At this point I'm laughing at the overblown sensationalism. The author's credibility for bothering to write about this molehill is seriously threatened..

    apps that contain more than one activity tied to the launcher, the Android text-to-speech engine, Android cloud-to-device messaging service among

    • by znerk (1162519)

      apps that contain more than one activity tied to the launcher, the Android text-to-speech engine, Android cloud-to-device messaging service amongst a few others.

      Ok, there's a few less-trivial-sounding things there. I don't even know what they are. Maybe the activity-tied-to-launcher or cloud-to-device thing (by any chance is it really Google-closed-API-to-device?) is something that someone will give a fuck about. I don't know. But this dude sure started off with a stupid example.

      In android development, an "activity" is what any other programming language would call a "form", "window", "screen", or "dialog".

      So, for instance, Angry Birds won't work, because it has a splash screen, a level select screen, a configuration screen, and the actual game screen. That's 4 activities.

      You won't be able to install an android-based browser, because it has the browser screen and a configuration screen.

      Come to think of it, there's only a tiny handful of apps that don't have at least two, if not a h

      • by corsec67 (627446)

        No, I don't think that this limitation is about that, but more about an app app that has multiple launchers.

        You can register an "intent" as a , which is an activity that is started from the Android launcher. And it seems more reasonable to have a restriction of only one of these.

        So, no "Game" and "Settings" icons in the launcher.

      • Can that possibly be true? I know nothing about Android but I can't imagine that your explanation is accurate...that would eliminate 99% of programs.

        I'm guessing the distinction you didn't mention is "activity-tied-to-launcher"? Any thoughts?

  • Just leave it be.

  • by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @08:09PM (#37561512) Homepage

    I just picked up a Playbook (because they've already plummeted in price, and I wanted to try one out), and when I heard someone tell me the Android support had changed, I got a little freaked out.

    Then I read the list of things that won't work and rolled my eyes, because they're all non-issues.

    What a waste of time this story and linked article are. Move along, nothing to see here.

    • This depends on if the app will ru, but simply not use the listed capabilities vs. if any app using these capabilities will not run.

      If it is the former, no big deal. If it is the latter, this would make a huge number of apps on the market unrunnable.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe they reduced their support for Android apps because they didn't want their platform infested with malware?





    ...relax...i kid, i kid ;)
  • Only a Message Dialog Box saying 'Hello World' will be suported
  • I think they just need to cut their losses and go the HTC route. Forget your own OS and make a great skin for Android. Perhaps they can make "super apps" that only run on their machines.
    Quite frankly, that summary makes it sound like they want to support Android apps, but can't always do it because of their technical limitations.
    My other suggestion is they just try to get MS to buy them. If MS doesn't want them, they should try to sell themselves to HTC.
  • So anything that relies on the device layer is not going to be supported (Sound, Frame-Buffer, etc). Any respectable nerd would already know this.

    The old slashdot would have posted a detailed story on why some Android Apps will not work on the Blackberry/iPhone/Win7 phone etc.

    Enjoy.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Right because nobody has ever successfully run software expecting specific hardware on other platforms, via emulation or abstaction/virtualization before. Its just inconceivable such a thing could have been implemented on what is basically a hand held computer with phone hardware strapped to the address bus.

  • Disclaimer: I have never owned an android device, and my experience is quite limited.

    AFAIK, when you install an app it asks your permission to do a number of tasks(update x, send messages, place calls ect...) Perhaps this limitation allows apps to do only one of those things. EG. a multimedia app that formerly played audio over bluetooth(task 1) and prevented your phone from sleep mode(task 2) is now crippled so it can do just one of those things
    • by index0 (1868500)

      From http://developer.android.com/reference/android/app/Activity.html [android.com], "An activity is a single, focused thing that the user can do."

      So it sounds like only apps that have 1 window/ui screen.

      • by alannon (54117)

        An Android developer here:
        This limitation just means that there can only be a single icon on the launcher screen that starts the app. On a real Android device, the same 'application' can have multiple icons, each of which opens a different starting screen.
        Not really that big of a deal except for special-purpose apps. I suspect that the Playbook's launcher shell simply doesn't support the concept of multiple entry-points for an application, so they introduced this limitation to make supporting things easie

    • Disclaimer: I have never owned an android device, and my experience is quite limited.
      AFAIK, when you install an app it asks your permission to do a number of tasks(update x, send messages, place calls ect...) Perhaps this limitation allows apps to do only one of those things. EG. a multimedia app that formerly played audio over bluetooth(task 1) and prevented your phone from sleep mode(task 2) is now crippled so it can do just one of those things

      My interpretation as an android developer is this.

      Android allows apps to have multiple Intents. An intent is like a Form / Window / UI. Almost all non trivial apps are made up of multiple intents. I believe these will still work.

      Now, you have to mark one or more of these intents as a start up intent. It's like the entry point of the program. An app with multiple start up intents will have an entry on the "start menu" for each one, but pointing to the same application. It sounds like its only apps with m

  • by fafaforza (248976) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @08:59PM (#37561864)

    Wonder if any of that is motivated by avoiding patents. Samsung just signed an agreement to pay Microsoft a fee for each Android phone sold to lessen its exposure to Microsoft's legal moves against Google. Another company that did that (motorola?) paid MS $5 per phone.

    Wonder if these apps lessen the amount of IP possibly being infringed upon.

    • I doubt it.

      All the things being cut out are really very specific Google technologies, that would be hard to duplicate and even do as well a job as Google has.

      For instance, Google's cloud-2-devices service is still being operated as a closed beta, so it's not like all Android developers even have access to it in the first place (although, we've been promised access to it multiple times already). And the speech-to-text api (I really think the journalist meant speech-to-text, not "text-to-speech") is also ano

    • Another company that did that (motorola?) paid MS $5 per phone.

      HTC

  • by znerk (1162519) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @09:04PM (#37561884)

    When they have the firesale in another couple months, we can just put Cyanogen on it.

  • This is awesome news! (I should mention that I have Put options on RIM.)
  • by Namarrgon (105036) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @09:31PM (#37562052) Homepage

    These "missing features" are mostly due to not having Google services, which the Fire will also lack.

    Not only is Google Maps missing, but any app that pops up a map itself will also break. Cloud-to-device messaging requires Google's servers. In-app billing, ditto. The text-to-speech and SIP VoIP components are also (AFAIK) specific to Google devices.

    None of these features work on any non-Google-experience devices, including the Fire, the Playbook, the Nook Color, and all the cheapo crappy tablets too.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      None of these features work on any non-Google-experience devices, including [...] all the cheapo crappy tablets too.

      See the marketing problem for RIM there?

    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      The text-to-speech and SIP VoIP components are also (AFAIK) specific to Google devices.

      RIM is pretty f'ed in the head regarding text-to-speech. If I remember the developer licensing terms correctly, the penalty for making a Blackberry application that can speak involves being kicked off the developer program and having all your apps removed from the store.

  • Is this a 'Change of Stance', ie a change of what had previously been announced, or more of a clarification/refining the details? I may be wrong but I don't recall RIM saying anything other than 'will have future Android support', which is kind of vague
  • I would love to see more of this bad news, so the abomination that is RIM can die once and for all. The company is a joke, the products are a joke, and I'm sure all those engineers and developers would be put to better use elsewhere in the industry. Maybe someplace that isn't run by two boneheaded "co-CEOs" with zero ambition and zero vision, and perhaps a few less PHBs ruining the rest.

  • Seriously, what basis is there for calling the Playook moderately successful. You might (maybe) call the Tab moderately successful. The playbook drops in price every week. That is no kind of successful but un.

  • Implementing every damned activity and intent in Android would be a herculean task and even getting two activities residing in separate processes to correctly handover would be non trivial. Making a single dalvik instance run and execute against a subset of functionality is obviously a lot easier. It doesn't preclude Android support expanding, but I don't see it as an admission RIM bit off more than they could chew by promising support.

    But it does raise a question of what the hell they're doing trying to

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