Google’s convergence of Chrome and Android is taking a big step forward this week. After launching a limited App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) back in September, Google is expanding its beta project to allow Android apps to run on Windows, OS X, and Linux. It’s an early experiment designed primarily for developers, but anyone can now download an APK of an existing Android app and launch it on a Windows / Linux PC, Mac, or Chromebook.
You simply need to download the ARC Welder app and obtain APKs from Google’s Play Store. There are some limitations: only one app can be loaded at a time, and you have to select landscape or portrait layout and whether you want the app to run in phone- or tablet-style. However, you can load multiple apps by selecting the download ZIP option in Arc Welder and extracting it and then enabling extension developer mode to load the folder of the extracted APK. During my testing I’ve found that most apps run really well. There are some exceptions like Gmail and Chrome for Android that throw up Google Play Services errors, but that’s not because ARC doesn’t support them. Developers will need to optimize their apps for ARC, and some Google Play Services are also supported right now, making that process a lot easier.
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