Google recently released an ARC Welder Chrome app, which allows you to run Android apps if youre on Chrome OS, or using the Chrome web browser.
ARC or App Runtime for Chrome is in beta and so you should expect bugs. Also, you simply cant install apps from the Google Play Store. You need an Android application package or APK, or an Android application that has been stored in a ZIP file.
In order to run APK files, you have to first download them from one of any number of repositories on the Internet. Once downloaded, you can load them in ARC Welder and if (big IF) it runs, test it out.
Theres no guarantee all (or any) of the apps you try will work or that theyll be usable, but for developers who want to create Android apps that also run in Chrome OS and the Chrome browser, its useful for testing.
For the rest of us, its just fun to play around and see how it works.
Installing ARC Welder on Your System
You will find ARC Welder in the Chrome Web Store. Click the Install button to get started.
Click Add to install the ARC Welder into your Chrome apps.
Once the Arc Welder app is added, you will have to find some APKs to run. There are a lot places from which you can download APK files. Try searching for specific apps along with APK.
When youve found some, open Chrome, your Chrome Apps, and then start ARC Welder.
When you first run it, youll need to select a directory the APK can be written to. Click Choose and then either select an existing location or create a new one.
Next, its time to load your first APK. Click Add your APK to begin.
Navigate to the folder where you saved your APK files and select one. Now youll be presented with quite a few options, such as how you want the orientation, any metadata you want to add, etc.
Dont worry if you dont want to mess with any of this, just leave all of it to the defaults and click Launch App.
Chances are quite good that many of the APKs you try to load will not work. We tried to load Facebook and Google Play, but both seemed to hang. We gave Flappy Birds a shot for old times sake, but it crashed.
Twitter worked, however, as did Instagram, and a few others.
If you load an Android app in Chrome, it will be available to load directly as a Chrome app from thereon. No need to load it through ARC Welder.
You can, however, only test one Android app at a time. The next time you load an APK from ARC Welder, it will remove the previous app.
Nevertheless, its interesting to be able to load Android apps, not simply on Chrome OS, which seems a more natural fit, but on Windows, OS X, or any other system with the Chrome browser on it.
Even while Macs have a fairly large app store, its not overly extensive, and the Windows Store app platform is anemic and prone to exploitation. So, it could prove useful to have more Android apps that also run on Chrome. Right now, there arent very many, so well have to see where app developers take this.
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