When the PlayBook was announced, BlackBerry had created an Android emulator based on Google’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread that allowed select Android apps to run on the BlackBerry Tablet OS to expand the small native BlackBerry apps that were available in BlackBerry World. Now, the Android Gingerbread OS is becoming dated and though BlackBerry is fully focused on getting developers to port Android apps to natively run on the BlackBerry 10 operating system that launched late last month, BlackBerry isn’t limiting its app selection. The company has now promised that it would update the Android emulator to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, which would allow apps created for Android 4.0 or above to run on the PlayBook, the BlackBerry Q10 with a keyboard, and the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone that’s a touchscreen only slate device.
Crackberry is reporting that BlackBerry had announced the news at BlackBerry Jam Europe. This is good news for those who have favorite apps on the Android platform that may not have been ported to run natively on BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry still has not commented on a definitive timeline for when the upgrade to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will occur, but there would be some irony if BlackBerry could accomplish this feat before some native Android devices get their OTA upgrades to Jelly Bean.
Though Google may not want or like this to happen, but it will be interesting to see if developers can hack Google Now to run. Google Now does require Android 4.1 and above to run, and it is a smart, intuitive personal assistant.
While Jelly Bean is the focus here, Google is expected to update its Android operating system to Android 5.0 in mid-May at its Google I/O developer conference, which will be happening at the same time as the BlackBerry developer conference in North America. Both platforms will be competing for developer attention at different venues at the same time, so it will be interesting to see where developers will focus their attention.