One of the best reasons to upgrade your Playbook to OS 2.0 is its support of Android apps through an emulation engine called the Android Player. The use of such an app is fairly seamless, since it opens in a full screen window that incorporates many of the existing Playbook features such as swiping down to make the menu bar appear.
But there seems to be something fishy going on behind the scenes. Dolphin Browser HD, one of the most popular third-party browsers in the Android Market, was made available for download by a company called Handster. Turns out, though, Handster had nothing to do with the development of Dolphin, and merely packaged and submitted it to the BlackBerry App World in spite of of developer MoboTap. Handster seems to be submitting both free and paid Android apps to the App World irrespective of whether the original developer intended for it to be available.
Handster is a publishing company owned by none other than Opera, the creators of its own popular Android browser. MoboTap has expressed concern over this practice and is looking to have Dolphin Browser HD removed from the App World listings. I had a chance to test it myself and found performance to be about as poor as possible on a tablet, coming nowhere close to the fluidity of the native Playbook OS 2.0 browser.
MoboTap claimed, “We do not condone Handster submitting our Dolphin Browser app to BlackBerry’s App World for us and are currently working to take it down and assure Handster will not submit our app for us again. We will assess developing for BlackBerry when the time is right.” We think that is the correct strategy, and it’s unfortunate that the Android capabilities of the Playbook are being taken advantage of by publishers with dubious intentions.
Neither Handster or RIM have responded to calls for why third-party publishers are allowed to repackage and submit existing Android apps, but we’ll let you know if they do.