You may have heard the folks at Blackberry touting that its apps store will have about 70,000 for Blackberry 10′s launch, but how, exactly, did it build up such a massive catalog? It wasn’t pure, raw development, I can tell you that much. Many of those applications were developed for the older versions of Blackberry, but a whopping 40% — that’s about 28,000 — came from somewhere else.
Those applications actually came from Android. If you don’t remember from the launch of the BlackBerry Playbook, Blackberry — who was formerly known as RIM — provided a tool that allowed developers to easily port and repackage their Android apps to work on BBOS. With the recent announcement of Blackberry 10 you had to imagine the company would look to implement the same sort of compatibility layer for the phone side of things.
Interested developers need only change a few lines of code in order to port their Android apps over to Blackberry. Most of the code deals with implementing the “back” and “menu” functions which are normally handled with hardware or software buttons. Since Blackberry 10 uses swiping gestures to control all of that it is necessary for developers to make those minor tweaks. It’s nearly effortless, though, and the end result is a Blackberry app that actually is an Android app.
Blackberry obviously wants developers coding in the platform’s native tongue, but the company needed to spur development as quickly and efficiently as possible, and offering a tool to port apps from the world’s fastest growing mobile platform is one neat way to do that. It’s a band-aid, essentially, and Blackberry will want developers to rip it off as soon as possible and let the wounds of the app-less platform (when it comes to modern implementations, anyway) heal naturally.