Research in Motion raised a few eyebrows recently when a tweet from the firm’s vice president of developer relations suggested that RIM would stop allowing Android apps to be sideloaded onto the BlackBerry PlayBook due to piracy concerns.
“Piracy is a huge problem for Android devs, and we don’t want to duplicate the chaotic cesspool of Android market,” RIM’s Alec Saunders tweeted last week.
In a Tuesday blog post that sought to clarify his position (“140 characters doesn’t allow for nuance,” he wrote), Saunders denied that RIM would get rid of side-loading for the BlackBerry PlayBook OS or in BlackBerry 10. Side-loading allows for the installation of apps without a dedicated app store.
“Side-loading on our platform is changing in nature. Side-loading is a developer feature. it exists so that developers can load their apps onto their own devices to test,” he wrote. “It’s there so developers can send a beta release to their testing community for review. it is definitely not there for some people to side load a pirated app.”
With the release of BlackBerry PlayBook OS, RIM will include “a feature that will encrypt apps so they can only be run by the user who purchased the app,” Saunders said.
Saunders did not specifically mention the Android platform in his blog post.
In March 2011, RIM said the PlayBook would run Android and native apps in addition to apps developed for the BlackBerry platform. The idea from a developer perspective was to give them an opportunity to try things out on the PlayBook so they’ll perhaps opt for a PlayBook-specific version in the future.
Saunders and Marty Mallick, vice president of global alliances and business development at RIM, discussed the Android side-loading issue during a roundtable at February’s Mobile World Congress. one phenomenon RIM didn’t expect was people submitting Android apps that weren’t their own. one app, Mallick said, was submitted 10 times – but none of those submissions were from the owner.
“There’s a surprising amount of piracy” with the Android apps, Mallick said at the time.
Android malware was big news in 2011. Unlike Apple, Google does not have a strict approval process in place for its Android Market, and while that might make for a more open environment, it also makes the store vulnerable to some dangerous apps.
To address this issue, Google in February added a new layer of security to the Android Market (now Google Play), dubbed Bouncer, that will scan apps for evidence of malware.
The effort will automatically scan new and existing apps as well as developer accounts, “without disrupting the user experience of Android Market or requiring developers to go through an application approval process,” Google’s vice president of engineering, Hiroshi Lockheimer, said at the time, in a nod to Apple’s App Store process.
On the RIM front, Saunders pledged to work with the developer community so they can “still quickly and easily test your apps on real hardware.” Attendees at BlackBerry 10 Jam will receive a prototype device on which developers can start building, he said.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
For the top stories in tech, follow us on Twitter at @PCMag.