For years I have been waiting for BlackBerry to start bypassing the carrier OS approval process by releasing updates to parts of the OS in BlackBerry World. Every time it seemed like they were going to do it they pulled back. In legacy OS 7.0 we were supposed to get incremental updates at least for security fixes but those never happened. Instead we were always stuck waiting for official OS builds for even the simplest of fixes.
Well that changed earlier this month when BlackBerry released a tiny incremental update to the BlackBerry Runtime for Android. This update fixed an issue when upgrading from OS 10.1 to 10.2 certain Android applications stopped working (also if you restored a 10.1 backup on 10.2). BlackBerry released the same updated runtime found in the latest leaked OS to address this issue.
While this may seem like a small change, it is a huge step for a company that has almost NEVER bypassed the byzantine carrier OS approval process. Google has been doing this for awhile now by updating a subservice of Android called the Google Play Services that is way more important that the Android OS version (LifeHacker explains why). It allows Google to update a core part of the OS even if you are running an older version of Android that your manufacturer has not yet updated or never plans on updating.
Personally I am hoping that this is the start of something new at BlackBerry.
Also of interest are some high level rumors, and some interesting forum threads, that we have been hearing about BlackBerry making it easier to get Android apps on BlackBerry 10. There are conflicting reports on what BlackBerry may be considering. This includes everything from bringing Google Play directly to BlackBerry 10 to just making it easy to install Android apps without sideloading and converting to BAR files. This is something I have been advocating for awhile now so its nice to see it is being considered… Speculation also says that it could be why we are not seeing leaked builds of OS 10.2.1 but I have not heard any confirmation of that. Maybe BlackBerry could just stop blacklisting the required Google Services in the Android Player that make certain apps incompatible…