Remember the rumours made some time back about RIM's upcoming tablet being able to run both its own apps alongside that of Android's, even though it uses a different operating system? Well, it turns out that the rumours were true after all: the PlayBook will indeed come with such functionality built into the BlackBerry Tablet OS, along with a few extra features.
It is no secret that it is no longer enough for a mobile operating system to boast high-performance and a visually appealing user interface. While nobody will deny that the aforementioned characteristics play a part in an operating system's popularity, the real deal maker comes in the form of the operating system's application repository. SImply put, if a mobile OS wants to do well in the market, it has to offer a large enough app repository that can satisfy just about every single user's needs.
With that being said, how will a completely new OS like the BlackBerry Tablet OS in RIM's upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook solve the problem of having only small library of native applications? Well, the rumour mill was claiming that RIM would attempt to achieve some form of compatibility with Android by giving its tablet OS the ability to run Android applications without forcing developers to recompile their apps. And as it turns out, the rumour is indeed true, for RIM has confirmed that such a feature does exist in its BlackBerry Tablet OS.
According to a report posted by gadget website Electronista, RIM's approach in ensuring app compatibility between its new tablet OS and Android is made up of two steps. The first step requires that developers carry out some 'repackaging' on their existing Android apps: this will allow users to download the apps off RIM's own BlackBerry App World.
The second step involves the use of 'players', which appear to be some kind of compatibility wrapper or unofficial implementation of Android's APIs and libraries. This 'player' will allow Android apps to run under the BlackBerry Tablet OS environment, albeit non-natively. If it works well, this move will give RIM instant access to the large library of applications currently available for download on the Android Market, along with other third-party repositories which offer similar Android software.
Last but definitely not least, RIM reportedly claims that the PlayBook's OS will come with its own Java engine which is supposedly compatible with legacy BlackBerry Java applications. No news about RIM's Java engine has been made public yet, but speculations are rife that RIM might opt to drop the Dalvik virtual machine currently used by Android in favor of another implementation to avoid crossing paths with Oracle over the lawsuit the latter has filed against Google regarding unauthorized used of Java code.