For a short while RIM made it possible to side-load Android apps onto the BlackBerry PlayBook, thus bolstering the app catalogue for the tablet by some margin. Unfortunately it then revoked this decision due to ‘security issues’, leaving PlayBook owners with BlackBerry apps only.
An enterprising developer decided that just BlackBerry apps wasn’t enough, and so set out to get apps from Apple’s iOS platform to work on the PlayBook tablet. Android apps were one thing – there was a specially designed Android app player and sandboxing developed for this – but iOS apps shouldn’t work on anything but iOS devices.
However, the developer created an iOS app player for BlackBerry and proceeded to proudly show it off on video, which was posted to the CrackBerry Forums. Many shot it down, claiming the video was a phony, but the developer has since explained the method, thus proving it to be legit. He says:
“The CPU isn’t emulated on Playbook (though it is on Windows). It works very similarly to how WINE works to run Windows applications on Linux. The app binary is mapped into memory and imports are resolved to point to my own implementation of the various APIs needed. iOS actually uses a few open APIs already, which Playbook supports just as well (GL ES, and OpenAL). The bulk of the work has been in implementing all of the objective C classes that are required. The ARM code of the applications run as-is – the armv6/v7 support on PB/iDevices are pretty much identical, and the code is designed to run in USR mode. No SWIs, GPIO accesses or any of that kind of shenanigans.”
While to many the explanation may seem like complete nonsense, it simply tells us that both the PlayBook and iOS use similar code and software to create and run apps. It seems that the developer still had a fair bit of work to do though, which makes this an impressive feat.
The developer has proved his method by running several popular iOS apps on a BlackBerry PlayBook, including SketchMobile, Super Monkey Ball, Tiny Tower and even TomTom. The apps run in an emulator, and from the videos they seem to run pretty flawlessly. We’re impressed, check out the video below and let us know what you think.
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