BlackBerry 10 breaks 100k app barrier with help from Android ports

BlackBerry 10 breaks 100k app barrier with help from Android ports

Summary: BlackBerry 10 users now have a choice of more than 100,000 apps - which includes Android apps ported to the platform. But do users really care about the difference between ports and apps built specifically for the platform?

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BlackBerry 10 now has more than 100,000 apps in its BlackBerry World catalogue, including ports from Android.

The company made the announcement on Wednesday, confirming that it had added more than 30,000 apps to the platform since it launched on 30 January.

"Top brands and application providers are joining us every day and are seeing the benefits of being early supporters of the new platform. We constantly hear from developers that the BlackBerry 10 tools are easy to build with and that we provide opportunities for app differentiation that they do not see on other platforms," Martyn Mallick, VP of global alliances at BlackBerry, said in a statement.

Among the headline apps already available on BlackBerry 10 are Amazon's Kindle app, OpenTable and The Wall Street Journal, with other big names such as CNN, The Daily Show Headlines, eBay, eMusic, Maxim, MLB at Bat, MTV News, Pageonce, PGA, Rdio, Skype, Soundhound and Viber to be made available in "the coming weeks".

One of the challenges for BlackBerry's recently launched platform is convincing potential buyers that it has the apps they want. It's a challenge that BlackBerry recognised in the run up to the launch of the software, and embraced by trying to get as many apps in the catalogue before launch as possible, through means such as 'port-a-thons' and its 10K Built for BlackBerry developer guarantee.

By the time BlackBerry 10 launched, the company had around 70,000 apps in store, although some of these are Android apps that run on the BlackBerry 10 platform with, mostly, minor modifications.

The company chose to make it easy for Android developers to bring their apps to BlackBerry's platform in a bid to quickly bolster the number available in store, but they are unable to integrate into the platform in the same way as native apps built specifically for BlackBerry: Android apps that are ported across to the BlackBerry system may not have exactly the same features on that platform as they do on Android, because they may use of APIs that are not present on BlackBerry 10.

The question of whether the average smartphone user could notice, or care, whether the apps have been built specifically for BlackBerry 10 or not is a more difficult one to assess.

On one hand, users will be happy that the apps they want are gradually making their way across to the platform and unless they have a large collection of Built for BlackBerry apps (a challenge in itself, right now) are unlikely to notice the lack of integration into the core OS.

That said, for apps that have taken advantage of the Cascades design of BlackBerry 10 and been integrated into areas such as the BlackBerry Hub, the experience is more feature rich and easy to navigate than Android ports. Over time, providing BlackBerry can continue to convince developers to build bespoke versions of their apps for the platform, the differences in functionality and appearance will become more obvious.

The bigger question is whether BlackBerry will be able to keep up with supporting new versions of Android as they begin to roll out. The potential problem here lies in the way it implemented Android support: instead of virtualising Android (like Amazon's version) for its devices, it did a port of the Dalvik virtual machine, meaning that if Android makes substantial architectural changes, BlackBerry would have to do substantial work to ensure the ported apps are still compatible.

Topics: BlackBerry, Apps, Smartphones

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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8 comments
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  • That's good news.

    I wouldn't want BlackBerry/RIM to die.
    ForeverCookie
    • ah but

      rim did die. its just blackberry now.
      Nick Farsley
  • exactly the opposite is true

    It battles FUD when you know that apps from other platforms will work alongside your proprietary platform's apps. The more, the merrier. After all, the iPod didn't explode until Jobs' underlings forced him to accept porting it to Windows.
    Geedavey
  • Makes 2

    Sadly I opted to go with an Android phone not long before the BB10 was released. Not a bad phone, using 4.2.1 but it seems so much more like using just a bunch of programs on an OS and not as integrated a whole as either the Playbook OS ver. 2 or the new BB10. Would love to have an economical exit strategy for the Android phone. As far as the Android apps, I have to uninstall as many as 95+% because they introduce messages about meeting girls, popping up advert notices and freezing the phone. After 2 months I've only found maybe 4 actually usable apps that do not add undesirable or screw up the phone.

    I have had better results with the Android apps offered on the BB app site, so far only 2 I needed to uninstall so maybe the company apps or monitoring through contracts to have better quality control.

    I am not affiliated with RIM/BB and not partial to any particular OS other than my beloved and long buried Tandy Xenix. I use Win7, XP, Linux, Android and BB systems currently and in the past had MS Windows.phone, Palm OS (ok maybe 2 favorite OSs), Apple, UNIX, CPM, Commodore and others. Whatever gets the my job done is the best for me.
    BrianLevyEsq
    • "...I have to uninstall as many as 95+%..."

      Wow.
      You should really be more careful when choosing apps. You are obviously doing something wrong. Where are you getting all these terrible apps?
      I use the Google app store and have had no such problems.
      radleym
  • It sound like concepts are being mixed.

    Just to be clear
    1) BB has a mechanism that runs unported andriod apps. The apps remain non-native code. Often slow and awkward. Basically a compatibility layer. Most cellphones today use ARM and so the ARM code is fine it is just some of the system calls that differ. QNX supports POSIX and so it is pretty easy map things over.

    2) A ported app allows an android app to run natively on the Blackberry but it was not originally designed to run on the blackberry and may not take advantage of features particular to the new platform. For some apps that matters and other apps it really doesn't matter at all. For the latter you really can't tell the difference most of the time.

    3)Apps designed specifically to take advantage of BB. Messaging, special gestures etc. Again it depends on the app.
    DevGuy_z
    • I wasn't as clear as I needed to be upon review.

      A ported app is an app that is converted to run on Blackberry. Such an app may or may not take advantage of features particular to the BlackBerry. If it is just a straight port then it enables the app to run on the BB without a VM layer but doesn't add any functionality. The port makes the app a QNX app instead of an Android or IOS app. A full port seeks to take as much advantage of the system hardware as possible. The blackberry can also run android apps in a VM. In the case of IOS the port is typically more work because the source language changes.

      There that is better.
      DevGuy_z
  • who cares

    Who cares that apps are ported? Who spends time looking at how feature rich and smooth a particular app is?

    Only we technical people seem to care about all that and we don't get to enjoy technologies we have because it will always lack some feature or the other.

    I've heard people in my neighbourhood saying how much they want the new Blackberry from 'apple'!

    That's right, they all think its by apple. Those people only care about web browsing, and media consumption. And the apps they need are covered in less than 10 apps. Who then needs the 99990 others
    R3aL1tY