Sunday, May 20, 2012

BlackBerry Playbook Tablet for Android porting

Houston, we got it in the mail: a free RIM Blackberry Playbook Tablet because I submitted on time an Android app to the BlackBerry App World. The Android app runs within the Playbook Android emulator (yes so the app is native Android! Pretty cool I'd say!

Below a few bootup screenshots:

The bootup time for the device is quite long, definitely longer than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for example.

Home-screen and taskmanager
This is what the home-screen looks like:
This is what the taskmanager looks like:
The way to go back to the home-screen or switch to another app is by swiping from the button of the screen up.

The simpel app running
And the app runs fine on the real device too :) Those Android figures are also checking it out as you can see...
Those four buddies are called: Don Pablo Calaveroid, Longevity, Fortune and Blessing. The last three were released because of the chinese Year of the Dragon. Too bad they sent one with still the USA power plug attached to it. Luckily I had a converter (as the globetrotter I am ;)...
This is how the tablet 7" screen compares to the Samsung 10.1 (note both screens are very clear, the picture is only trying to show the difference in size of 10" vs 7"):
Tetris just runs fine on it (but that's a native app), the screen is very clear:

Some generic feedback:
  • The tablet smells rubbery because it has rubber on the back. Probably done as anti-slip, but even your fingers start to smell like it.
  • A bit annoying was that you have to watch the Basics tutorials when doing the setup.
  • Like the virtual keyboard, feels like lot less typos than similar sized touch screens

During converting the app to the PlayBook Android 2.3.3 or higher runtime, I ran into a few issues:
  • For emailIntent.putExtra(android.content.Intent.EXTRA_TEXT, emailBody) statements needed to add .toString() to emailBody because otherwise you get an exception telling that EXTRA_TEXT is not a String.
  • After each re-install of the app on the emulator, nothing seems to be remembered of the preferences. E.g had to accept the EULA each time after a new deploy, while this does not happen on the "regular" Android emulator. Also works fine on the real Playbook device.
  • In my app the user can swipe left to right and vice versa to browse through tips. On the Playbook emulator the text on bottom of the screen was not always correctly updated. It was lagging behind.
  • When trying to open the browser with an Intent and URL in the simulator, it says 'No network connection'. Strange, the pre-installed browser on the home screen works just fine... Seems similar to this reported issue.