Tutorial: run Android apps in Chrome (Windows, OS X, Linux, and Chrome OS)

Last week, a hack appeared on the canvas to allow to run Android apps on a PC or a Chromebook with Chrome. We’ve put together a tutorial to explain how to take advantage of Android applications on a PC or Chromebook.

Jetpack Joyride OS X Mavericks and Chrome 37

Applications abound on Windows, OS X or Linux. But Android Play Store is full of little nuggets that would love to see turn on a computer. It is possible for about a week thanks to the work of Vladikoff developer who managed to bring the virtual machine ARC (the equivalent of ART for Chrome OS) for the Chrome browser. With it, Android applications can be launched from Chrome on Windows, OS X, Linux and even Chrome OS. Google had opened the door a few days before carrying 4 applications for Chrome OS. For the impatient, the method described below will override the limits imposed by Google, namely compatibility with 4 applications for now and only for Chromebooks.

First, regardless of your operating system, you must ensure that you have version 37 or newer Chrome browser. For Chromebook, only the last step is necessary.

1: Download the extension Archon Custom Runtime this page. According to our tests on Windows 8.1 64-bit, version 1.0 while working under 64-bit OS X Mavericks, it was necessary to download the 1.1 version for x86 32-bit Chrome. If your applications do not work later (in step 3), so try different versions of Archon available. For ARM Chromebooks base, it will download the ARM version of the extension, currently in version 1.1.

2: Unzip the file you just downloaded, open Chrome, go to Tools -> Extensions, select the top right Developer Mode, click Load unpacked extension and select the freshly unzipped folder. A new extension called Archon Custom Runtime in the list with an error message in red. Do not pay attention, this is normal and it will not change the operation of Android applications.

3: Then perform the same operation for each Android application you want to “settle” in Chrome: download the application, unzip the archive, import it into Chrome extensions from the panel and then start it from the same panel (or from the application list on the top left of Chrome).

Download compatible applications

We have seen how to install the virtual machine ARC and Android apps in Chrome and now need to succeed in procuring the Android applications, modified to run on Chrome. There are two solutions: either you manually change APK to make it compatible, or you enjoy the goodness of Internet users who have already performed the operation and have posted the application ready for use. On Reddit, there are many subjects that offer ready-made applications. A Google Doc tries to identify Android applications already modified by users to work with Chrome, with direct download links. In this table, only applications using the Archon runtime are compatible with Chrome on Windows, OS X and Linux. Applications using the Google runtime will only work on the Chromebook.

Caution: if some applications work perfectly, others do not appreciate at all run under Chrome. Thus, one can expect some bugs and even outright outright impossible to launch the application. If an application is not listed, you can change yourself APK to turn it into Chrome extension. The procedure is more difficult and we shall explain in a future tutorial if you are interested.