BlackBerry PlayBook – Getting Started with Side-Loading Apps
I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. I’ve let my blog slowly drift into disarray when I can do so much to try and help everyone.
So today, to celebrate my urge to do something useful, I wanted to post a detailed article on the BlackBerry PlayBook. I’m not going to focus on things like why it is better or worse than another tablet. Or what features I wish it had. But I am going to tell you what you can do with it. This blog post is designed for people relatively new to the BlackBerry PlayBook.
What is side-loading?
Ok, so you bought your PB. Now you want some applications, and you want more than what is online. As a user, you have some tough choices. You are going to see references everywhere online about this so I’m going to try and sum this up quickly. Side-loading is a fancy term for installing an application without using BlackBerry AppWorld.
Get started with sideloading by reading and following the instructions here.
Users can sign up for the BlackBerry Tablet OS 2.0 Developer Beta. This is not for normal users and I absolutely insist you backup first. Features break, a lot. And big ones. So if you use this, expect reliability issues with Bridge. Why is this worth a risk? You can side load APK files. If you sign up for this beta, check for updates right away. Generally you don’t receive a confirmation email. Downgrading is tricker, you need to disable wifi and perform a security wipe of your PlayBook. So, avoid trying to downgrade. Think carefully before you sign up for this and read the is bottom of the post.
Install community converted APK to BAR files (android files) from here (OS2 only).
Install Desktop Browser (a browser alternative from me) here.
Install Bridge OS2 Beta replacement (from me) here.
Install my Google + App here.
If your file shows a .ZIP with lots of files like an IMSMANIFEST.XML file or a bunch of folders, you probably downloaded the bar as a zip.
Signup on Crackberry.com and grab some of these helpful files from the community.
Want to run Windows 3.11 or other fun DOS games? Grab DosBox!
2) Extract this zip with Windows 3.11 to get started with to this folder on the PlayBook (\misc\dosbox) – creating the dosbox folder as you go.
Note: You should have the dosbox-0.74.conf in the \misc\dosbox folder for this to work. To use Windows 3.11, launch DosBox on your PB and type in “CD WIN311” and press enter. Then type in “SETUP” (no quotes in any of these) and press enter. You should now have Windows 3.11 installing.
Put any other DOS games you want access to in \misc\dosbox.
You could also install some questionable applications like the leaked version of Angry Birds (unstable and not great). You can also hot-link to my list of flash games here and get access to a ton of them!
Want to buy some apps?
I highly recommend the following downloads from the appstore: imt vnc (fantastic vnc player), phone remote (its unique!), Do (great app for creating lists, bit buggy), SuperSimpleNotepad (good for notes at work), NewsPile (RSS, updates frequently), Files & Folders (unzip, copy/paste, launch, fantastic!), Book Reader (epub reader, so fanastic, constantly improving), and any EB Games game, any Gameloft game, Crystal Story (cute simple RPG), Gravitee Wars (addictive aim and shoot game), and GRave Defense (always a classic TD).
What do I need to know?
There are a couple of issues to know, and things to watch out for! Backup frequently. If you install the Android 1.0 for earlier tablet OS (stolen file from RIM) you will not be able to use OS2 APK’s without a security wipe of your device. Also, you will no longer be able to backup your PlayBook. Lesson learned here: Be careful what you download 🙂
You need to reregister for each release of the beta release for OS2.
You need to security wipe your PB when you update to the latest OS2 releases or Android won’t work (Anytime the Android Run-time is updated).
The OS2 releases pretty much have nothing useful for users except for a folder sorting system & android support.
You can program in Adobe AIR or Native SDK (C++) on the PlayBook. Need a hand getting started with AIR? Start here with some of my source code :). You will need Flash Builder from Adobe and visit the BlackBerry website for more information. The best part, students and others can register for free legitimate Adobe Flash Builder license keys.