Research In Motion may be getting close to releasing the Android app player it promised for the PlayBook, judging from an old version of the player found on the BlackBerry.com website.

The N4BB blog reported that it was sent a beta build of the Android App Player for PlayBook, which had been found through a changelog in a desktop manager update on the BlackBerry website. RIM has pulled the web page, but bloggers have already posted it elsewhere for anyone to download.

Unoptimised build

Those who have reported that the app player is a large file and is slow. It also lacks a back button, but users have discovered that swiping across the bottom of the screen moves to the previous page. Users are under the impression that this is a relatively old version of the software.

RIM confirmed that an "older version" of the Android app player was inadvertently posted online and has been removed.

"We recommend that users refrain from downloading and installing this software since it is outdated and non-functional in many respects. The official beta release of the Android App Player for the BlackBerry PlayBook is on track for release later this summer," the company said.

App compatibility

In March, RIM announced that it would ship software so that PlayBook customers could run Android and Java apps on the tablet. The move takes some of the pressure off RIM to try to cultivate a rich developer following, by allowing existing Android apps to run on the PlayBook.

The process won't be totally straightforward however. Developers will still need to port their apps to the PlayBook, in a process RIM said will be quick and easy.

The company has not said when the Android and Java players will become available. RIM sold 500,000 PlayBooks during the first six weeks of sales, a figure that many observers called inadequate. Some have criticised the tablet for its lack of a native email client.

Separately, RIM on Thursday said it was the first to offer a tablet computer certified for use by government agencies.