We’ve been waiting for awhile now to get the official word from RIM about their PlayBook’s capabilities of running Android and Java apps. Well that wait is over as a press release from the Canadian company was out recently stating that RIM now has plans to greatly expand the application ecosystem for the BlackBerry PlayBook.

RIM will launch two optional “app players” that provide an application run-time environment for BlackBerry Java apps and Android v2.3 apps. These new app players will allow users to download BlackBerry Java apps and Android apps from BlackBerry App World and run them on their BlackBerry PlayBook.

It doesn’t end there, RIM also plans on releasing native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook enabling C/C++ application development on the BlackBerry Tablet OS, meaning more apps. For game-specific developers, RIM is also announcing that it has gained support from two leading game development tooling companies, allowing developers to use the cross-platform game engines from Ideaworks Labs and Unity Technologies to bring their games to the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The litle green guys is everywhere

The litle green guy is everywhere

Developers currently building for the BlackBerry or Android platforms will be able to quickly and easily port their apps to run on the BlackBerry Tablet OS thanks to a high degree of API compatibility. The new optional app players will be available for download from BlackBerry App World and will be placed in a secure “sandbox” on the BlackBerry PlayBook where the BlackBerry Java or Android apps can be run. Developers will simply repackage, code sign and submit their BlackBerry Java and Android apps to BlackBerry App World. Once approved, the apps will be distributed through BlackBerry App World, providing a new opportunity for many developers to reach BlackBerry PlayBook users. Users will be able to download both the app players and the BlackBerry Java and Android apps from BlackBerry App World.

RIM is on a roll for their tablet as they’ve also announced that the BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Development Kit (NDK), which is currently in limited alpha release, will go into open Beta by this summer and be demonstrated at BlackBerry World. The BlackBerry Tablet OS NDK will allow developers to build high-performance, multi-threaded, native C/C++ applications with industry standard GNU toolchains. Developers can create advanced 2D and 3D applications and special effects by leveraging programmable shaders available in hardware-accelerated OpenGL ES 2.0.

Other features of the BlackBerry Tablet OS NDK will allow developers to:

  • Take advantage of the QNX POSIX library support and C/C++ compliance for quick and easy application porting and for creating native extensions for both BlackBerry and Android applications
  • Easily integrate device events like gesture swipes and touch screen inputs
  • Integrate the BlackBerry Tablet OS environment into existing code management and build systems using industry standard Eclipse CDT (C/C++ Development Tools)
  • Leverage work done in standard C/C++ to make it easier to bring applications to the BlackBerry Tablet OS
  • Find and fix bugs quickly with provided debug and analysis tools

The BlackBerry PlayBook is scheduled to launch in the U.S. and Canada on April 19. There’s no word on the global launch yet. The new app players for the BlackBerry PlayBook are expected to be available from BlackBerry App World this summer.

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