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Don't get too excited about Android apps for BlackBerry

Apps expected to run slower, face approval and limited to Android 2.3 or below

We're still waiting for Research in Motion to allow Android apps to run on its Blackberry PlayBook tablet, as promised last March, but a new report says these apps will eventually run on future BlackBerry phones as well.

In 2012, RIM plans to launch smartphones based on QNX, the same operating system that powers the PlayBook, and these phones will also include the Android "app player," three unnamed sources told Bloomberg. The ability to run Android apps on BlackBerry devices sounds like a dream come true -- a quick and dirty fix to RIM's app deficiencies -- but there are several reasons not to get your hopes up.

Android apps will run slower

As Dan Frommer points out, BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie has said not to expect great performance out of Android apps on QNX, because they'll be running through an emulator. "You're just not going to get things like gaming and multimedia, you're not going to get the speed going through a VM interface," he said. In other words, don't expect to watch Netflix through the app player.

Android apps must be recompiled and approved

You're not likely to see a flood of Android apps in BlackBerry App World, because Android developers will have to repackage their apps and submit them to RIM for approval. With PlayBook sales reportedly worse than expected, I'm guessing most developers won't make the effort.

Android apps are stuck in a box

The PlayBook's elegant multitasking, which lets you glide between open apps with a finger swipe, doesn't appear to let you move between multiple Android apps. In RIM's official video demonstration of Android apps running on the BlackBerry PlayBook, all Android programs are confined to a single "player" app.

Gingerbread apps only

For now, RIM is only planning to allow apps created for Android 2.3 or under. That's not a huge issue for QNX smartphones, but PlayBook owners will miss the large-screen optimizations in Android Honeycomb and above.

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