If you have ever wanted to run an application on your desktop, maybe for testing or something, you can now do that with ARC Welder.

Google recently released some tools that allow developers to port their apps to Chrome/Chrome OS. The tool is called ARC which is short for Android Runtime for Chrome. So a developer can import their application and quickly port it so that it can run on Chrome and Chrome OS.

So even this first step by Google is an amazing feat and we could stop right there with the story. Interestingly enough though, it gets better.

Shortly after Google released ARC, a developer put together a Chrome Application called ARC Welder that lets users do most of the work. So, let’s take a look at the steps required to get APKs running inside your Chrome browser or even on your Chrome OS device.

Android Apps on Chrome

  1. Launch the Chrome Browser
  2. Download and Install the ARC Welder Chrome App
  3. Launch ARC Welder
  4. Click on the ‘Choose’ Button at the Bottom Right
  5. Select a Directory for ARC Welder to Store Files in
  6. Click the ‘Add Your APK’ Option
  7. Browse to and Load an APK File
  8. Configure the Settings
  9. Click the ‘Launch App’ Button at the Bottom Right


The process is rather simple but it can seem confusing on your first go round. So, the first thing you need to have, naturally, is the Chrome browser. This can be a standalone browser installed on Windows or Linux. It can also be the Chrome OS that you get on the Chrome Stick, Chromebox or Chromebook. Either way you choose, you just need to have the Chrome browser available.

ARC Welder Welcome

Once you have Chrome open, visit the link shown above in step 2 so you can download and install the ARC Welder application/extension into your Chrome browser. It’s around 100MB in size so it can take a while if you are on a slow connection. Once it has been downloaded and installed, you can launch it from the Chrome web store or you can launch it from where ever your Chrome apps are shown(this can sometimes be in your taskbar). Either way you want, go ahead and launch ARC Welder and you’ll see the welcome screen just like it is shown in the image above.

You’re going to want to click on the ‘Choose’ button at the bottom right and then pick a directory for ARC Welder to store some temporary files(mainly for the apps you load). I just chose the Desktop when I was playing with it but it doesn’t matter what directory you pick, as long as it has write access to it. The next thing you’re going to want to do is download an APK to load/test. I went to APKMirror because it is run by reputable people(Android Police) so I know there won’t be any malware in the APKs and that they are legit. But you can also install an app onto your smartphone or tablet and then extract the APK from there if you would like.

ARC Welder Test

Either way you go, make sure you have the APK downloaded and then click on the ‘Add Your APK’ option from within the ARC Welder window. Browse to and select the APK you downloaded and then you’ll be taken to a setup screen of sorts. It will ask you which orientation you want the app to play in, if you want the form factor to be a phone, tablet or maximized, and if you want the app to have access to your clipboard. Once you set everything up, go ahead and click on the ‘Launch App’ button at the bottom right and it should load it up for you.

ARC Welder LInk Bubble

As you can see, the first APK I tested was Link Bubble, an application from Chris Lacy and it loaded up just fine. You can click to simulate touch inputs within the application. Scroll with the mouse wheel and even click and drag to scroll too. You’ll see three buttons at the top of the app window: a back arrow(which works just like the back arrow on your smartphone/tablet would) and a minimize/close box. I was unable to get a keyboard to appear in this application and I don’t know if that is because of the ARC Welder limitations or if Link Bubble just didn’t work very well in this environment.

The second application I tested was the Adult Swim one. I just wanted to see if I could hear any audio while playing some sort of media. I couldn’t get anything to play but not because the application was broken here, just because I wasn’t going to log into my TV service provider. It’s possible that things like audio don’t work but I have no way of knowing right now. Maybe I will test the YouTube application out a little later.

The application seems to function well and performance while navigating it was very smooth. Again, I only played around with it for a few minutes and I only tested these two APKs to make sure the whole thing worked. I always have my smartphone on me so I don’t see the need in loading APKs into Chrome but I can definitely see why Google released these tools(and how quick the developer of ARC Welder put together this Chrome App). I look forward to seeing how this evolves over time.

I see a lot of talk about Google talking to developers and telling them that they can develop one single application/game and have it run on Android, Windows, Linux and Mac very quickly and easily. So I could see the Chrome web store filling up with some applications submitted by developers over the next few years. This idea makes a lot of sense and again, I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves over time. This could be neglected without getting much attention or it could blow up into a massive success for Google, Android and developers who take advantage of it.

Have you had a chance to try out Android applications on Chrome/Chrome OS? Are there any apps that you would recommend I try out? Use the comments section below to tell me your thoughts on Android Runtime for Chrome, ARC Welder, and what you think this could all mean for Google in a few years time.


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