ZOMG! It's true

It's been rumoured, and dismissed, and rumoured again, for months - and now it's been confirmed: the new BlackBerry Playbook, the iPad competitor from BlackBerry makers RIM, will play Android apps.

The PlayBook's new QNX operating system runs apps in the same Java-based environment (don't worry, you don't need to understand that) as Google's Android, leading geeks to point out some months ago that Android apps could easily run on the device. The question was whether RIM would let them. And now we have the answer: yes, pretty much.

There are some restrictions: RIM are only mentioning Android 2.3 applications, so we don't know whether the PlayBook will also run apps made for the new 'Honeycomb' version of Android, 3.0, which is the one actually designed for tablets (on the other hand, the PlayBook is a seven-inch tablet, and Honeycomb is so far only being released on 10-inch tablets, so maybe that makes perfect sense). And you won't be able to simply install Android apps onto your device's home screen, you'll need to run them through a special 'app launcher', er, app.

Most restrictingly, this doesn't make the 200,000 or more Android apps currently available PlayBook-ready overnight - they'll still need to be 'ported' to PlayBook, though it should be a super-simple operation for developers. So it's not clear that this means the PlayBook is becoming a fancy Android tablet. But it certainly makes it a more compelling proposition to know that, if your favourite app isn't available in a BlackBerry flavour, you might still be able to run it.

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