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RIM Demos BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps

Today at BlackBerry DevCon, RIM demonstrated how it easy it is to turn an Android application into one which runs on the PlayBook tablet under PlayBook OS 2.0 and later under the upcoming BBX operating system. On stage, RIM Director Handheld Architecture Rajeev Mohindra and Senior Architect Strategic Initiatives Kamen Vitanov showed three apps that had been successfully ported from Android to PlayBook OS 2.0 without a single code change.

The first ported app Mohindra and Vitanov showed was Pulse, a popular news feed app for Android that shows a mosaic of pictures and headlines of top stories from around the Web. After importing, the application retained key Android features such as a back button and a context menu, but since the PlayBook does not have these buttons built-in, the menu appears only if you swipe up from the top bezel and the back button sits at the bottom of the screen.

They also showed a pool game that uses OpenGL graphics to show 3D balls bouncing around the table. The game appeared to play very smoothly and even provided sound as the cue hit the ball. Mohindra and Vitanov also showed a port of the Android IMDB app, but they were unable to get it to play movies because of a poor Wi-Fi connection.

After they were done demoing the three converted Android apps, Vitanov showed how a developer would convert an Android app for user on the PlayBook. With the app's source code open in Eclipse, the most common Android development tool, he simply selected BlackBerry Repackaging tool from  the file menu. Since the BlackBerry plug-in installs directly into Eclipse, exporting should be a breeze. However, on stage, the export failed.