Run Android Apps on your Blackberry
Step One: Upgrade The Playbook OS
In order to download your copy of Playbook OS 2.0, you’ll need to enter your Playbook’s PIN number, which can be found on your tablet by opening its device settings page and then looking under About, tap the drop down menu in the top right of the page and select Hardware. Your tablet’s PIN number will be listed at the top of the page. A few minutes after submitting your PIN to RIM, the 2.0 upgrade will appear as being available on your Playbook. Connect your Playbook to a power source and follow the device's on screen prompts.
The upgrade to the new operating system must be completed within 24 hours, otherwise, you’ll have to start the application and process all over again.
Step Two: Place the Playbook into Development Mode
After you finish gawking at the changes to your Playbook’s operating system, access its settings and under the security pane, set a new password for your tablet. For obvious reasons, make sure it’s something you’ll remember, as you’ll have need it in order to access your Playbook (duh), as well as to side load .BAR files from your PC (not so duh).
Next, switch your Playbook into Development Mode. This setting can also be found under the tablet's security pane. When you slide the Development Mode switch into the ON position, you’ll be prompted to enter a password. Use the one you created just a few moments ago.
Close your Playbook’s Settings page and return to the main screen. Look to the top right of the screen: See that little dude with the cogwheel stamped into his chest? The icon indicates that you’ve successfully entered Development Mode.
Step Three: Install Java Runtime Environment
With Playbook side of things taken care of for the time being, it’s time to turn your attention to your computer. In order to install .BAR files to your Playbook, you’ll need to have the latest version of Oracle’s Java Runtime Environment installed. The installer can be downloaded here. Follow the installer’s prompts and install the software to the suggested default location.
Step Four: The Right Tools for the Job
Until recently, side loading .BAR files to the Playbook was a frustrating process thanks in no small part to RIM’s byzantine combination of development standards and needful tools. When the possibility to convert Android .APK files into .BAR files so that they could be loaded on to a Playbook became a viable option for the tablet’s users base, Playbook aficionados began working tirelessly to not only see what Android apps would run after being converted for use on QNX powered Blackberry hardware, but also devised more efficient methods for installing the files. One of our favorites has been devised by HaTax—Blackberry developer and insanely active member of crackberry.com’s user forums. Thanks to HaTaX’s free Playbook toolset, installing .BAR files has become a drag-and-drop operation. The Playbook toolset can be downloaded here.
Once the download is complete, unzip the file and locate the the PB-installer batch file. Using Notepad or another text editor, open the batch file. One you’ve opened the file, you’ll need to hunt down two things: A line that starts “TABLETIP=“ and another that reads “TABLETPASS=”. Enter your Playbook’s IP address (located under the same pane as where you turned development mode on back in Step Two), and your tablet’s password, respectively. Save the file and close it.
Step Five: Find Some Apps
Converting .APK files to BAR files isn’t an easy process, and requires a lot of preparation including a Blackberry developer’s account, hardware signing key, Android SDK and of course, the Android APK files you want to convert. Even once you have everything set up and ready to go, there’s no guarantee that the file has been converted for installation as a .BAR will work. Until February and the official release of the Playbook 2.0 operating system roll around, running Android apps on a Playbook is an experimental venture which, depending on the application, can provide very mixed results.
Fortunately, Playbook users with the time and the tools to do the job have been hard at work building a database of Playbook-compatible Android apps that have already been tested and proven capable. The database, which can be found here, also includes listings for applications that are currently being tested, as well as any that have failed to open on the Playbook after being converted. Click the links for the apps that interest you and download them to your rig. For those looking to plug that PIM gap left by RIM thus far, it’s worth noting that Google’s Android Email, Calendar and Contacts apps have all been converted to .BAR files and are yours for the taking. Remember to check the database on a regular basis, as more apps are being added all the time.