Ever wished you could run an Android app in your Chrome browser, regardless of whether you’re on a PC, Mac, Chromebook, or Lappy 2000?
While we’re not at quite 100% now, you can run many APKs from the Chrome browser using an extension named ARC Welder.
ARC stands for Android Runtime for Chrome, and this extension allows you to take an APK you’ve downloaded and run it as long as your computer can run Chrome.
It should be noted that this only runs very vanilla Android APKs at the moment. If your application requires access to things such as Play Services, you’re going to be out of luck as this is a pretty stripped down runtime environment at the moment.
Another drawback at the moment is it only appears to work with one application at a time, as it’s designed as a development tool, at least at the moment. We can hope to see this expanded when it’s a bit more full featured.
What ARC Welder does pretty well is allow you to use an Android app as though it were part of the Windows or Mac OS. It works great for what I’ve tried it with (Twitter – pictured above, and Allcast), although your experiences may vary.
Google announced back in September that this was coming (at least to Chromebooks) and evidently Google, or arc-eng (developer listed on the extension) decided that they’d release this on April 1 to the world to follow 11 years later in the footsteps of the April 1 release of Gmail.
If Android can run under Chrome, this would mean Android apps and games would suddenly have over a 90% audience reach (Windows, Mac, Chromebook, llama, etc.), with next to no work required to obtain the platform.
Whether that would translate into running apps under the iOS versions of Chrome, who knows.
Anyway, if you want to try this out, click the ARC Welder link above and install into Chrome, then go over to APKMirror or grab an APK from your phone and choose it from ARC Welder. Let us know what works and what doesn’t for you.
You can find the official Google instructions here, in case you’re feeling a bit off about it.