22 Jul 2011

How to install third-party Android apps on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Yesterday an early build of the Android app player leaked for the BlackBerry PlayBook, and though it’s not quite ready for prime-time, the daring and adventurous are welcome to check it out. RIM has warned against using it, but if you’d like to throw caution to the wind, we’ve got full instructions on how to get third-party Android apps up and running.

Just remember that performance isn’t ideal at this point, and lots of app just plumb don’t work. The process involves digging around a lot of risky parts of the device with unofficial tools, and since none of them are supported by anyone, you’re on your own if things go south. That said, the Spiciness Level of this How-To is graded at Guatamalan Insanity Pepper.
  1. First you’ll have to get the Android Player. RIM has taken down the original host, but there are bunch of mirror sites now available.
  2. Next you’ll need a way to sideload that Android Player into the PlayBook. There’s an app called the Dau Den PlayBook installer that can help you do that, but it requires the Java Runtime Environment installed. Go get the JRE first, then install DDPB.
  3. Now to make your PlayBook play nice with DDPB by putting it into Developer Mode. Swipe inwards from either top corner of your PlayBook to pull down the system menu, and tap the gear in the top-right. Tap the Security tab on the left pane, then Development Mode on the right. You’ll need to pop in a password.
  4. Now plug in your PlayBook via USB to your computer, and open up DDPB. It’ll ask for an I.P. address and the device’s password. You can get your PlayBook’s I.P. address by tapping that new icon at the top that looks like the image to the right. developermode How to install third party Android apps on the 
BlackBerry PlayBook
  5. Once you’re in, you can hit the Add button,  and select the Android Player .BAR file that you downloaded in step 1. Once that’s on the list, hit the checkmark, and hit install. This could take a little while, but don’t freak out.
  6. Once that’s all done, you should have the Android Player installed and good to go. It will take awhile to boot up, but once it’s open, swipe down from the top to pick your screen view, and chose installed files. The back key is mapped to a diagonal swipe upwards from the bottom frame (make sure it’s not from the corners, or that will bring up the keyboard, or it’s straight up, because that will launch multitasking). From there you can run some of the core Android applications. Those are all well and good, but let’s get some third party stuff installed. For that you’ll need to download and install the Android Software Development Kit, and the Java Development Kit.
  7. Next up, you’ll need to download the .APK file for the app that you want to install. For free apps, you shouldn’t have any trouble, but don’t be a dick and steal premium apps. Devs gotta get paid, son. I’ll leave this step to your well-established Googling skills. Remember, the Android Player is running OS 2.3.3.
  8. If you’re doing this from scratch, you’ll need to boot up the SDK at least once to load the Android Debug Bridge. Back in Windows, browse to where you installed the Android SDK, and open SDK Manager. It will ask you which packages you want to install. Go with Android SDK Platform-tools, which should be near the top. This will take awhile to download. Grab a coffee. Once it’s done, move the APK of whatever you downloaded to the platform-tools directory.
  9. This is where things get fun. Make sure you’re still in Development Mode and you’re plugged in via USB. Go into your PC’s command prompt by hitting Start, Run, and enter “cmd”. Once the prompt is up, type “cd\” to go back to C:, then navigate to the Android SDK’s “platform-tools” folder. If you went with the default installation path, you should be able to get there by typing “cd Program Files\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools”.
  10. Connect with that adb dealie we installed in step 8 by typing “adb connect″. It should return with a confirmation.
  11. Then punch in “adb root restarting adbd as root”, which should return another confirmation. Reconnect again using the command in step 10.
  12. Open up the Android Player on your PlayBook, and type in “adb install” and the full name of the APK file you want to install. It’s usually in the format of “com.developer.appname.apk”.  Remember, it needs to be in your platform-tools directory. You might have to set your home view to “Blank” then back to “Installed Applications” in order to see the apps after they’ve been installed.
And blam, you have a third-party Android app installed on your PlayBook. Whether or not it actually works is anybody’s guess, but now that you’ve gone through all of this trouble, you can try new apps just by running through steps 9-12.  If you do give it a shot, let us know which apps you’ve managed to get working in the comments!

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