Google is providing Android app developers with tools that allow their apps to run in the Chrome web browser. But you don’t need to be a developer to use Google’s ARC Welder utility: it lets just about anyone run (some) Android apps on Chrome OS, Mac, Windows, or Linux computers.
When I first wrote about ARC Welder, I noted that one of its limitations was that it only allows you to run one Android app at a time. Loading a second app will overwrite the first.
But it turns out that’s not entirely true: there is a way you can use ARC Welder to prepare multiple apps so that you can run them through Chrome. Keep in mind, ARC Welder is still in beta, many Android apps won’t work with it, and you’ll get the best experience by only installing apps that have already been distributed through the Chrome Web Store.
Want to live dangerously? Here’s how.
Basically what you need to do is download APK files for the apps you want to install, prepare them with ARC Welder, then load them as “unpacked extensions” in Google Chrome.
More specifically, here’s what you need to do:
- Install ARC Welder and download your APK files, as per our previous tutorial.
- Launch ARC Welder and choose the “Add your APK” option and select your APK.
- It’s a good idea to click “Launch App at this point to test the app and see if it works properly (many apps such as YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, or Netflix may not).
- Next, choose the Download ZIP option.
- Navigate to the folder where you downloaded that ZIP file.
- Unzip the file you just created to a new folder (or the same one).
- Open the Chrome web browser, choose “More tools” from the settings menu, and then click on “Extensions.”
- At the top of the page, check the box that says Developer mode.
- Click the button that says “Load unpacked extension” and select the folder where you just unzipped your file.
That’s it! If everything properly, you should see a new entry in your Extensions list for the app you just installed. It will also show up in your Chrome app launcher.
The process is a bit tedious, and yes, it involves creating a ZIP file only to unzip that file to a new folder. You’ll have to go through these steps for each app you want to install. But once you’ve finished, you can launch any of your installed Android apps from the Chrome launcher menu.
If you’re a visual learner, here’s a video walkthrough of the steps described above: