Maybe its the high definition screen, the Full HD recording capabilities of its cameras, it’s eminently portable size… we cant quite put our finger on it yet, there is a certain je ne sais quoi about the PlayBook.
One thing that we’re really anticipating though is a slew of Android apps and games that could be heading to the PlayBook.
Back in February we heard a whisper that the PlayBook would be able to run Android apps and games alongside apps specifically made for the BlackBerry Tablet OS. This rumour turned out to be partially true when in March, RIM announced that “developers currently building for the BlackBerry or Android platforms will be able to quickly and easily port their apps to run on the BlackBerry Tablet OS thanks to a high degree of API compatibility.”
So while you can’t directly install and run Android .apk files on the Playbook (which would have appealed massively to our geekier side), the possibility of Android devs quickly porting apps over to the Playbook is enough to get us excited.
We’ve drawn up a quick wishlist of ten Android apps and games that we’d love to see on our BlackBerry PlayBook.
SwiftKey for Tablets
Yes, we go on about SwiftKey an awful lot here at Recombu. That’s because it’s great. The standard virtual Qwerty that you get on the PlayBook is nice enough but it also feels a little, well, standard.
We want a glowing electric blue Tron-style interface and lightning quick text predictions please. In fact, we’d like to see this on Android tablets too. Announced back in February, we’ve not yet seen SwiftKey for Tablets hit the Android Market…
We want to be able to access, edit and create Spotify playlists on our PlayBook and share them with our friends. The latest update to Spotify for Android was a pretty big one – it allowed those with Free accounts to wirelessly sync any MP3s they owned from their desktop to their Android phone and play it using the Spotify player.
So as well as giving Premium subscribers as way to access their playlists on the PlayBook, those with Free accounts could also use it as an easy way to wirelessly sync their own MP3s.
Retro Camera Plus and FxCamera
There’s a dearth of camera effects and settings on the PlayBook’s default camera and hardly any fun camera apps available in the App World either. We’d like to see both the Retro Camera Plus and FxCamera Android camera apps, which give you a number of fun arty shot modes, various levels of vignetting, ‘film scratches’ and other simulated idiosyncrasies of ye olde camera film.
Seeing as the PlayBook is a Wi-Fi only deal, you’re going to be connected to some kind of Wi-Fi point if you want to use any internet services.
Granted, most of the time you’ll be doing this is when the PlayBook is connected to your BlackBerry phone via BlackBerry Bridge. But for those times when you need to connect to another Wi-Fi point and you’re presented with a number of hotspots to connect to, it’s often hard to know which one is the best, or least congested.
Wi-Fi Analyzer is one of our favourite Android apps, really useful for determining which hotspot is the best to connect to.
Google Docs with OCR scanning
Google will obviously want to keep its best stuff on the Android platform, so the chances of us seeing this on the PlayBook are pretty slim. We can live in hope though that we’ll be able to scan in documents directly to a document on the PlayBook somehow. Failing that, we’d like to at least have a way to access Google Docs on the PlayBook that doesn’t require you to do so via the browser.
Robot Unicorn Attack
We’d been waiting and waiting for the chrome hooves of Adult Swim’s robot unicorn to attack the Android Market for ages, after being taunted with the iPhone edition. It’d be a shame if Playbook users had to wait as long for their dreams to come true.
While the original desktop Robot Unicorn Attack loads up ok in the Playbook’s browser there’s no keyboard attached. So you can’t ‘z’ to jump or ‘x’ to dash. Come on Adult Swim, all we want is for our Android phones and PlayBooks to live in harmony.
Our review model PlayBook came with Bing Maps included. Nice enough, but occasionally we’d like to make use of the extra functionality offered by Google Maps for Android.
Like with Google Docs, you can access desktop Google Maps through the PlayBook’s browser. But it means that we don’t get to use things like Places and turn-by-turn directions in the same way that you can on Android phones. 3D buildings, rotating maps and an offline caching mode would also be nice additions.
Despite it’s perhaps unfortunate name, Ball Droppings remains one of our favourite Android apps/games. It’s an entrancing audio visual experience, less of a game and more of high tech stress buster. A bit like a Newton’s Cradle for the 21st Century.
Ball Droppings creates sounds ‘generated’ by bouncing balls hitting lines that you’ve drawn across the screen. You get to chose what sounds the balls make, ranging from soothing piano and synth noises to clattering woodblocks and steel drums.
It can get really chaotic and a bit headache inducing, so perhaps ‘stress buster’ isn’t perhaps an appropriate term. Still, Ball Droppings has got great show off value and would both look and sound great on the PlayBook’s 7-inch screen and stereo speakers.
Smart Office 1.5
Smart Office is a great productivity app that’s available for the iPad, iPhone and Symbian phones as well as Android devices. It allows you to create and edit Word and Excel documents on the go and share files via Dropbox.
It might not be the most exciting thing you’ve heard about (yay, work!) but what’s great about Smart Office is that it works across a variety of platforms. So a colleague could start typing something up on their work computer, share it via Dropbox and everyone else in the team could pick it up on their iPad, HTC Desire Z, or Nokia N8 or whatever.
Smart Office works really well and we’d like to see the BlackBerry PlayBook get a look in as well.
Yeah, Angry Birds. Why not? It’s out there for virtually every other mobile platform and its absence from BlackBerry devices has become something of a running joke among users – literally.
We’ve seen the original game, the Seasons spin-offs and the Angry Birds Rio movie tie-in all hitting the Android Market. Given that BlackBerry fans have been crying out for some bird flinging action for ages, we can’t see why Rovio wouldn’t to port its titles across.