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RIM Exec Clarifies Claims About PlayBook Sideloading

Sideloading is apparently becoming a developer-only feature.

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RIM Exec Clarifies Claims About PlayBook Sideloading
[ Technology]

Last week on Twitter Alec Saunders, Vice President of Developer Relations for RIM, stirred up some controversy with statements about future support for sideloading in the next version of the BlackBerry PlayBook operating system. In case you’re not familiar, sideloading is the ability to load apps onto a device without going through an official app market. It’s a feature of Android that has caused some problems for Android developers, as it can be used to load pirated apps on to Android phones and tablets.

RIM, it seems, does not want BlackBerry App World to wind up like Google Play, which Saunders called a “chaotic cesspool” of piracy:

@blondeboyofdoom piracy is a huge problem for Android devs, and we don’t want to duplicate the chaotic cesspool of Android market 5 days ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

The day before, Saunders said that RIM would be removing sideloading from PlayBook OS 2.1, citing developers’ piracy concerns:

@blondeboyofdoom piracy is a huge problem for Android devs, and we don’t want to duplicate the chaotic cesspool of Android market 5 days ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

When questioned, he said that sideloading for consumers would be getting the ax, but that developers would continue to be able to test their apps:

@Spy520e we’re removing sideloading for consumers. Pretty sure we’ve got a solution for devs. 5 days ago via TweetDeck ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

The tweets produced a fair bit of controversy when they came to light late yesterday and this morning, prompting Saunders to post to the BlackBerry Dev Blog to clarify the situation. Leaving sideloading available for consumers, he said, enables piracy. The purpose of the feature is to allow developers and their beta testing communities to test apps. He went on to say that PlayBook OS 2.1 would not, after all, be losing sideloading. Instead, it would include “a feature that will encrypt apps so they can only be run by the user who purchased the app.”

In other words, you can technically sideload an app onto your PlayBook, but only if you’ve purchased it. This is actually the same model that Apple users. An iOS app can be loaded onto an iOS device by copying it from any source – a USB data stick, for example – into your iTunes library. However, it will only run on an iOS device if the user purchased it, or has been authorized by the person who purchased it.

What do you think? Should RIM have left sideloading alone in PlayBook OS? Is app piracy as big an issue as Saunders claims? Let us know in the comments.

RIM Exec Clarifies Claims About PlayBook Sideloading
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