BlackBerry Diaries: day three

It's a return to the planet of the apps as Nic experiments with getting Android applications onto the BlackBerry Q10.


The most recent BBOS update promised the ability to install Android app APKs directly on to your BlackBerry, without having to use a side-loading program.

And it certainly delivered. You may not get the full functionality of Google Play, but provided you can find APK files you can (usually) get an app working.

But let's be honest -- it's not exactly the easiest process. I said yesterday that I was going to try using Snap to get some apps on the Q10. The problem is that Snap itself comes down as a .BAR file, which means you actually have to sideload it in order to get it running.

Instead, I used the 1mobile Market which fulfils a very similar function -- it's a simple store-style interface for grabbing Android apps. I downloaded it via the BlackBerry browser and, after changing my settings to allow me to install files not from BlackBerry World, I was up and running.

(Screenshot by Nic Healey/CNET)

Sadly, the first files I downloaded using 1mobile (Up by Jawbone and Spotify) wouldn't install, telling me that there was a "problem while parsing the package". Delightfully alliterative, but not super helpful for anyone outside of the dev community, I assume. I had a bit of search online for help, but I didn't find anything too helpful -- if anyone has more information, I'd love to hear it.

I tried rebooting and that got Up working, but not Spotify. Sadly, I use a Jawbone Up24. When I tried to link my band with the Up app, it told me that the Up24 requires Android 4.3 or higher, presumably because it uses Bluetooth LE. As far as I can tell, BB10 works the Android 4.2.2 runtime, so while the Up app might work, I wasn't going to be syncing my Up24 using it.

I tried a different technique for Spotify. I used the APK Downloader URL service. I pasted the Google Play URL for Spotify into the site, generated a download link, had the service convert that to a QR Code and then scanned that with the Q10.

Once again Spotify downloaded and this time installed just fine. There were a few issues with the login screen being a little jammed up, but I'm assuming that's the Q10's screen rather than any software issues. It plays perfectly now that I'm logged in, although the play/pause button on my headphones doesn't work with Spotify -- it actually turns on the BlackBerry music player, which then plays at the same as Spotify. It's a little odd to listen to...

(Screenshot by Nic Healey/CNET)

I also tried Hangouts, which downloaded and installed fine from the 1mobile Market but won't work, because "Google Play services is not supported by my device". That's not entirely surprising. Snapchat also gave me a similar error, saying that it "won't run without Google Play service" but aside from showing that error, it works completely perfectly. Go figure.

So, getting my apps from Android on to the Q10 was mostly successful, but it still occasionally felt like a bit of a kludge rather than a full feature. I can see why BlackBerry is working so closely with devs when it can, and why BlackBerry World has the curated selection of 'Built for BlackBerry'.

Again, I'm pretty impressed with how easily the Q10 fits into my life. There's been a learning curve, but it hasn't been a particularly onerous one at all.

 

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