Previously, App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) is a tool which let you run Android app on Chrome OS. In most of cases, it can provide the opportunity for Android developer or anyone to running and test Android app with a minimum amount of effort – No simulator or real device needed.

Last week, Google extends this tool and bring it to Chrome store which allows you to run Android app on any Chrome env – Chrome OS or Chrome browser. In other words, you are now able to run the Android app easily on any OS, Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.

This Chrome extension is called: ARC Welder.

Please directly use the link (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/arc-welder/emfinbmielocnlhgmfkkmkngdoccbadn) to get the extension. You may not be able to find it by searching its name.

Setup

Setup of ARC Welder is easy.

Here is the welcome screen of ARC Welder when firstly launching it:

ARC Welder Welcome

Click “Choose” button to specify a local directory to store app files.

And here is the main screen:

ARC Welder Main Screen

Add Android Apps

In order to add Android app, you will need the apk file of the app.

If you want to load some app from Google Play, you can either check out this chrome extension – APK Downloader or use some “Mirror” website, such as AndroidAPKsFree.com or APKmirror.com.

Here is the configuration page when loading the app:

ARC Welder Loading App

After configuration, click “Launch App” to run the app. If successfully, it will open another screen to show the app.

ARC Welder App Running

Then you also access to this app from the “Chrome Apps” page (chrome://apps/).

ARC Welder is now still in beta, so it does not support all Android apps (such as Facebook app).

Add Multiple Apps

By default, every time when you add a new app, it will “remove” the previous app. Here is the way to add more than one app.

Before doing it, still use the normal way to take a test drive on the app, making sure it is working under the current ARC. Then use “Download ZIP” button to convert the APK file into a ZIP file.

The ZIP file is actually in the format of a Chrome extension so that you can add it to Chrome as an extension.

Unzip this zip file into your machine, then go to Chrome Extensions page (or open it by chrome://extensions) and enable the “Developer Mode”. Use the button “Load unpacked extension…” to load the folder of the app you just unzipped.

Chrome Extensions Developer Mode

After done the loading, you will see the app appears in the list of Chrome extensions. You can then open is as a normal chrome extension.

About ARC and Apps

As mentioned earlier, ARC is currently still in Beta, so it doesn’t support all of Google Play Services yet. However, here some available APIs:

  • Auth (OAuth2)
  • GCM
  • Google+ sign-in
  • Maps
  • Location
  • Ads

Check here for more details.

If your app uses some other services, it will crash after launching it.

In order to enable Google Play Services, you will need to set up a project on the Google Developers Console. After you get the client ID (it should be like 0123456789-randomstring.apps.googleusercontent.com), copy it to OAuth Client ID field of ARC main screen.

You also need to enable services explicitly using ARC-specific metadata. For example, to use GCM and Google+ sign-on, your Additional Metadata will look something like this:

[code language=”plain”]{
“usePlayServices”: [“gcm”, “plus”]
}
[/code]

Available services are: ads, gcm, location, maps, plus.

Enjoy!

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