Google recently expanded its beta App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) project which enables Android apps to run on the Chrome OS as well as on Mac, Windows and Linux computers, albeit with some basic limitations in place. It should be noted that the technology is largely experimental and mainly aimed at developers but accessible to anyone with Chrome as long as they have the ARC Welder from the Chrome Web Store downloaded. Users are then required to download an app’s APK file from Google Play or load their own afterward.

For the most part only one app can be loaded at a time but there have been some workarounds afloat. It is possible to load multiple apps by choosing to download a ZIP in ARC Welder, extracting all of that files contents and enabling extension developer mode to load the folder the APKs were put in. Despite which scenario ends up being put into place, users must manually select phone or tablet mode and landscape or portrait view.

Furthermore, app developers will likely need to optimize their code for ARC and only some Google Play Services are supported at the moment, which can break apps that are dependent on them. As of right now, compatible APIs include the following: Auth (OAuth2), GCM, Google+ sign-in, Maps, Location and Ads. Other functions with the apps may be inherently broken due to missing hardware such as the need for a camera or an accelerometer for certain apps. Google recommends that app creators should test their apps on the Chromebook Stable channel.

When it comes to iOS apps, many can already run in OS X through the use of iOS Simulator, which is a part of the Xcode development suite. ARC could potentially give Android a beachhead onto consumer desktops once it leaves beta and gains a broader base of developers. We’ll have to wait and see how it turns out though.

Source: Chrome Web Store (ARC Welder), Google Developer (ARC)