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RIM confirms Java and Android apps for Playbook

Canadian smartphone pioneer Research In Motion has finally confirmed that its forthcoming Blackberry Playbook will be capable of running Android apps. Well... some of them, at least.

RIM's announcement says that the business-centric tablet, which is due to hit US and Canadian shelves on April 19th, will have access to two 'optional' app players which will provide a runtime environment for both Java and Android apps.

Unfortunately, those apps won't include any that are custom-built for Google's tablet-specific version of the Android operating system, Honycomb.

Instead, the seven-inch device will be restricted to apps developed for the distinctly last-generation Gingerbread iteration, designed for use in mobile phones - which could put a bit of a dampener on the device's appeal.

The Playbook is powered by RIM's own QNX operating system, and the move to crowbar Android app offerings into the device is seen by some as a desperate attempt to overcome the difficulty of launching a new gadget with a crippling lack of native software.

RIM is working hard to get a software development kit for the BlackBerry Tablet OS into the hands of third-party developers, but that won't happen any time before June 2011, by which time the iPad's current library of 60,000 iPad apps will have grown substantially.

Despite shouting loudly about the Playbook's business credentials, RIM has also announced that it is getting into bed with two leading game development tooling companies, allowing developers to use the cross-platform game engines from Ideaworks Labs and Unity Technologies to bring their games to the device.