Monday, February 10, 2014

Manually Installing Android Applications on a Blackberry 10 Device running v10.2.1.537

After upgrading my Blackberry Q10 to v10.2.1.537 (see my previous blog entry), I decided to install some of my favourite Android applications onto it now that I no longer had to convert these Android APK files into BAR files in order to sideload it onto my Blackberry 10 device.

Since I have a few Android devices, it was a somewhat simple process for me to get the APK files that I wanted onto my Blackberry Q10. For me, I used Dropbox in order to get the APK file to my Blackberry since my Blackberry Q10 has Dropbox capability built-in but you can also download the APK files directly from a website or e-mail them to yourself once you have them.

For organization sake, I placed all my Android APK applications on my Blackberry in their own group/folder and called it Android APK applications but when the Android application is installed on a Blackberry 10 device, they appear as a normal Blackberry 10 application except that you get a bottom bar on the bottom of the application which you can remove by swiping from the top of the screen to the bottom and then selecting the "Hide Bar". I find that most applications are better without the bottom bar showing but some applications actually work better with the bottom bar showing.

There are other ways of getting APK files other than the method I used. My friend who didn't have any Android devices found the APK files that he wanted by doing Google searches however I find this somewhat risky as you can never know whether the APK file has been modified from the original file which is in the Google Play Store.

I have quite a few Android applications which were on my Android devices (LG Nexus-4, Samsung Nexus-S, Acer Iconia A100 tablet, and the Android installation of my HP Touchpad) which I wanted to transfer/copy to my Blackberry Q10 but I decided to begin by installing the following programs: Ebay, PayPal, Netflix, a local public transit application, YouTube, Google Translate, Lync 2013, Glympse, Microsoft RD Client, miCoach, and SpeedTest.

There is already an Ebay on Blackberry World which can be downloaded for the Blackberry Q10 but that version of Ebay is a port of an older version of Ebay for Android which was put into Blackberry World so everytime I started it, it would give me a message in my Blackberry Hub indicating that there was a more recent version of Ebay for Android available. With Netflix, SpeedTest, and Glympse, I already installed the converted BAR files of all of these applications and placed these onto my Blackberry Q10 but they were earlier versions of the Android APK file which were converted to BAR format so I decided that I wanted the current version of these applications (which was available from the Google Play Store) to be installed on my Blackberry Q10.

To get the APK files from your Android device, you can use a wide variety of apps. I used AirDroid and for my rooted devices I used Titanium Backup Pro (since the APK files were already backed up). Since AirDroid doesn't require a rooted device to get the APK files, this was the easier method. To use AirDroid for this purpose, you install it onto your Android device and then you launch it. After it starts up, you will be presented with a URL webpage/address to use on your computer's browser. You then enter this URL webpage/address on the browser of your computer and you will be presented with a message on your Android device prompting you whether to accept the connection or reject it. After accepting the connection on your Android device, you will go to your computer and notice an icon that entitled "Apps". You will then click on this and you will be presented with all the applications installed/accessible on your Android device. From that point, it is a simple matter of hovering your mouse over the item and then selecting the download button that will appear on the right.

After downloading the APK files that I wanted from my Android devices onto my computer, I just uploaded these APK files onto my Dropbox account. I then went to my Blackberry Q10 and clicked on the "Connect to Dropbox" (which was already configured to use my Dropbox account prior to me doing any of this) and I clicked on the APK file that I wanted to install.

After clicking on it, the file would download from Dropbox and I was presented with the install option for the program. You will need to enable apps installation from other sources if you haven't already done so. To do this, you will go into System Settings -> App Manager -> Installing Apps and turn on "Allow Apps from Other Sources to be Installed."

I then clicked on the Install button and within a few seconds the Android application was installed on my Blackberry Q10. At that point, it was just a matter of testing the Android app to make sure that it would work on my Blackberry Q10.

In the case of my example Android app (SpeedTest), the screen resolution of my Blackberry Q10 was not sufficient to display the app properly but it did work "properly."

In my case, the final step was just moving the Android app into the appropriate group/folder on my Blackberry Q10.

Please note that not all Android applications will work properly. For example, I installed Google Translate and it did work but I'm not sure about whether it is because I'm using a device with a physical keyboard but when trying to type in the word that I wanted translated, for every character that I typed, the cursor and screen would constantly jump from the top of the screen (where I was typing in the word) to the bottom of the screen as it was searching based on every single character that I typed. This made the application more problemsome that it was worth so I deleted it.

For the time being, it isn't possible to use any Android application that uses the Google account login without some hacking to the system. Personally I did not try to do this but I've read where others have tried it and were successful. Some of these Android apps will install and will work such as YouTube but you will not be able to link it with your Google account so you won't get a "personalized" YouTube experience. Most of these "incompatible" applications that require Google account login are created by Google. However, non-Google apps also sometimes use the the Google account or Google Play services information partially such as PayPal. After installing PayPal, when launching it, I would get a warning message below but the app appeared to run without any problems.

Some Android apps will exhibit strange behaviour that it doesn't exhibit on an Android device. For example, Glympse will show the last/family name of some of my contacts twice on my Blackberry Q10 and it doesn't do this on my LG Nexus-4 or my Samsung Nexus-S.

Some Android apps will also randomly crash. I've experienced these random crashes with Glympse and some other apps.

There is no way of knowing what Android apps will work on your Blackberry 10 device and which Android app won't work. The only way of knowing it is to either find this information on the internet or to try installing the Android app onto your Blackberry 10 device and testing it.

There is another way to install Android apps to your Blackberry 10 device directly using a Google Play application listing program called "Snap." I will outline this method in a subsequent blog entry.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.

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