For some odd reason, there seems to be a lot of interest around running Android apps on a desktop operating system, like Windows or OS X. I mean, I get it – it would be cool to get Android apps working on a PC, but is there any practical use for it? Perhaps there is, because a newly-released extension for the Chrome browser allows you to run Android apps (theoretically) as Chrome apps on virtually any platform that supports Google’s browser. The extension, titled ARC Welder, makes the process of running Android APKs on your PC dead simple.
Before we go into the details of how you’d go about using ARC Welder for Chrome on your machine to run Android APKs, let’s take a quick peek at how it actually works. The extension uses Google App Runtime for Chrome, which is the same environment that dedicated Chrome apps like Evernote, Vine etc, employ for the Chrome OS. ARC Welder does the same thing, but extends it to everything that can run the Chrome browser.
Here’s how you can get up and running:
Step 1: Install the ARC Welder extension for your Chrome browser from here. It’s a considerably big download, but the install process is just like any other extension.
Step 2: Launch the extension via the Chrome App Launcher, which will bring you to a neat, material-ist landing page asking for an APK.
Step 3: Now, you need an APK that you want to run using ARC Welder. You can download any APK you want directly from the Play Store by using our guide: How To Download Android APK Files Directly From Play Store
Step 4: Once you have the APK loaded, the extension will present a configuration screen that will let you choose orientation, phone/tablet mode, access level etc.
Step 5: When you’re happy with your configuration, hit the Launch App button, and that’s it – enjoy your Android app running on your PC – for the most part.
I say for the most part above because at the moment, there are very few apps that actually work with ARC Welder. It isn’t a problem with the extension – most Android APKs are designed with phones and tablets in mind, and thus, they don’t really render well on a Windows or OS X environment. That said, the extension is mainly meant for developers to test out apps and even code them to work on larger screens across platforms. Who knows; maybe ARC Welder’s implementation of Google App Runtime might revolutionize the way we look at Android APKs, but for now, it’s a fun extension to use and try different apps with.