BlackBerry phones may not be getting access to the Google Play Store anytime soon, but BlackBerry is making it easier for app developers to bring their Android apps to BlackBery devices.
One of the key features of BlackBerry OS 10 and later is support for Android apps, but developers need to make them available through the BlackBerry World store. Starting with OS 10.2.1, Blackberry is adding support for a wider range of Android apps and features.
Specifically, Android apps that use shared libraries written in native code including C and C++ will be supported, apps that use Android Bluetooth APIs will work, apps that use MapView from the Google Maps v1 API are supported, Android apps can use BlackBerry’s spell checking capabilities, and apps that use Android’s built-in sharing capabilities will now be able to tap into the default BlackBerry 10 share menu.
BlackBerry devices can support apps developed for Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean or earlier, and the BlackBerry team will release new BlackBerry developer tools for Android development tools soon.
Future updates will also include support for apps that use Bluetooth Low Energy.
The company also has an Android Runtime roadmap (which looks more like a train or airline schedule board) which shows new features that are on the way, and their estimated arrival dates.
In related news, there’s evidence that BlackBerry OS 10.2.1 might let users install Android APKs manually, without first downloading apps from the BlackBerry World store.
But the company has yet to confirm that.
Update: Yup, BlackBerry is confirming that you’ll be able to install APK files, which means third-party app stores like the Amazon Appstore will work. There’s currently no planned support for the Google Play Store or Google Play Services.