RIM Shows Android Apps on PlayBook, Partners with Microsoft

Research In Motion is holding its big event right now, BlackBerry World 2011, and some interesting things have already come out. First, RIM is entering into a rather pervasive partnership with Microsoft to make Bing the default through all levels of the BlackBerry operating system (includig the QNX-based one). Second, the first piece of videographic evidence of Android applications running on the PlayBook.

The demonstration of Android applications running on the PlayBook looked pretty impressive, and reminded me of the work Benoit Schillings – the man, the legend – is doing with Alien Dalvik. The applications demonstrated ‘just work’; RIM did not have access to their source code (but did get permission to use them in demonstrations), and yet, the applications still ran inside the Android Player (as it’s officially called).

The applications in question can be installed from the BlackBerry App World once the Android Player goes live, and will act and behave just like regular applications on the PlayBook. Standard PlayBook gestures are used for Android’s home and menu button, while the back button is emulated on screen. It all seems relatively smooth to me, and considering people do not seem to have any issues with the incredibly amount of UI inconsistency between iOS applications and between Android applications, I don’t think users will care here.

The bigger announcement during BlackBerry World 2011 is that of the partnership between RIM and Microsoft, in which Bing will become the default search provider on all BlackBerry phones as well as on the PlayBook. Steve Ballmer appeared on stage at BlackBerry World to announce the news, and it’s also on the Bing Blog.

“Blackberry devices will use Bing as the preferred search provider in the browser, and Bing will be the default search and map application for new devices presented to mobile operators, both in the United States and internationally,” writes Microsoft’s Matt Dahlin, “Also, effective today Bing will be the preferred search and maps applications with regular, featured placement and promotion in the BlackBerry App World carousel. Bing is also now shipping as the default search experience, and map app, for the newly released BlackBerry Playbook.”

This is actually good news, since more competition is sorely needed in the search market. I prefer Google over Bing, although I must say, on my Windows Phone 7 device, Bing is doing just fine. Still, despite my preference, competition is good for consumers, so anything that challenges Google’s dominance is welcome.


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