Do sideloaded Android apps give you hope for BlackBerry 10?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
I've had a lot of ups and downs when it comes to BlackBerry 10. When it regarded the release of the renewed platform, even if it didn't work out for the best I still commended BlackBerry's efforts for not entirely giving up and giving BlackBerry a solid second shot. As it turns out, BlackBerry 10 really didn't do so hot, which I then contributed in large part by the lack of mainstream applications available in the BlackBerry App World. Although BlackBerry once seemed to mainly tailor to the business aspect of smartphones, it seems with their new profile feature that they would actually like to cater to both business and personal usage (for things like entertainment) through applications. But to be frank, by the looks of it, it just may never happen for BlackBerry 10.
At least not coming from the actual companies behind such applications themselves.
Some companies just don't seem interested in the forward movement with BlackBerry 10. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even said himself that he's never used a BlackBerry 10 device, and doesn't see Netflix being officially available through BlackBerry 10 because, like many, he views BlackBerry 10 as good for business, not for entertainment. Then again, you have other companies like Instagram (Facebook) who intially didn't plan for a BlackBerry 10 release but if the rumors are true, it might not be long before we see an official version of Instagram on BlackBerry 10 devices (which might be a good way to kill two birds with one stone, considering their new Vine-like addition in the future).
But even if you're not willing to wait for official versions, there is another way to get these beloved apps onto your BlackBerry 10 device: sideloading Android apps!
I'm pretty late to jump on this bandwagon (in fact, so late that I imagine I couldn't even be considered jumping on the bandwagon - more like running clumsily behind it) but you know what they say, "Better late than never!" Although I'm just discovering about this whole sideloading wizardry I'm actually pretty thrilled about it, despite the drawbacks that any user is likely to encounter when directly porting an app from one platform to a completely unrelated one.
I was happy to see that programs like Netflix and even Instagram were pretty steady apps to sideload into a BlackBerry 10 device, but of course it didn't come without warnings of the occasional bug and hiccup. It seems that the majority of people who talk about the bugs agree that it doesn't render the app useless, and as long as you can look past a hiccup here and there they're perfectly functional apps. This bugginess is partly due in part to the differences between Android and BlackBerry 10 (being that BlackBerry 10 is very gesture-based), but it also has to do with the fact that BlackBerry 10 only supports Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) applications. Although Gingerbread was a big step up for Android, it's also taken a few more steps since then to get to Jelly Bean, which fortunately BlackBerry 10.2 claims it will be able to support. Given how fast technology improves, starting off 2013 with a statement that your phones can support applications from a platform that was running said version over 2 years ago may not sound that appealing to many; but hey, it's a start, and at least they're willing to catch up.
I've been looking for reasons to get the BlackBerry Q10 simply because I still have a love for the little click sound and feel physical keyboards make. Yeah, virtual keyboards vibrate and make the 'click' sound but it's just not the same as actually pressing a button down. I don't know how to explain it without sounding crazy, but the bottom line is: I just really like physical keyboards. Unfortunately, with BlackBerry 10 I was deterred from wanting the reminiscent Q10 in the first place due to A.) lack of mainstream apps and B.) high price tags that, as our own Aaron Baker put it, could be used to get a smartphone with a lot more power and features. The sideloaded Android applications options can at least somewhat make up for what the official BlackBerry App World is missing, and there's enough sales going on to lower the price of a pricey BlackBerry 10 device. The question now is: is it really worth it?
At the end of the day, the more I think about it, the more I think I could deal with BlackBerry 10 with sideloaded Android applications. Netflix has become the most used application on my phone next to the native messaging app, and with that available I think I could deal with any other challenges that come my way. It's definitely another option to consider, if nothing else.
Readers, what are your thoughts on BlackBerry 10 and sideloaded apps? Is the option to add Android applications enough to renew your love for BlackBerry, or are the bugs and hiccups something you'd rather not deal with? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!