Expanded Google ARC project brings Android apps to Mac, Windows, Linux

Posted:
in macOS edited April 2015
Google this week expanded its beta App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) project, enabling Android apps to run not just in Chrome OS but also on Mac, Windows, and Linux computers, with some basic limitations.




The technology is largely experimental, and aimed at developers, but accessible to anyone with Chrome if they've downloaded ARC Welder from the Chrome Web Store. Users must then download an app's APK file from Google Play or load their own.

Typically only one app can be loaded at a time, but it's possible to load multiple apps by choosing to download a ZIP in ARC Welder, extracting its contents, and enabling extension developer mode to load the folder the APKs were put in. In any event users must manually select phone or tablet mode, and landscape or portrait view.

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 dependent on them. Compatible APIs include Auth (OAuth2), GCM, Google+ sign-in, Maps, Location, and Ads.

Other functions may be inherently broken due to missing hardware, such as ones needing a camera or an accelerometer. Google recommends that app creators test their products on the Chromebook Stable channel.

iOS apps can already run in OS X, but only through 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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    timmymantimmyman Posts: 31member
    Why would you want to run phone apps on a desktop? This seems to be a solution in search of a problem. People near universally hated Metro apps which is essentially the same thing.
  • Reply 2 of 31
    lukefrenchlukefrench Posts: 102member
    since when a single software product from Google left beta ?
  • Reply 3 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,584member
    timmyman wrote: »
    Why would you want to run phone apps on a desktop? This seems to be a solution in search of a problem.
    Like you I doubt the majority of what's available belong on the desktop but some certainly are useful there. Look at the Android apps already running on Chrome. There's probably also a place for some games. I can't imagine something as simple as Angry Birds and the like would be any problem running in a browser.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,028member

    Sounds like the next generation malware trojan horse software. Once loaded, it will act like Flash, Java, Word macros and all the other cross platform software that messes with your system and never really delivers anything of value but opens up your Mac to all sorts of trouble. I don't trust Google to deliver clean software that isn't trying to grab my personal information for sale. Simple as that.

  • Reply 5 of 31
    xixoxixo Posts: 422member
    It exposes the platform to those who might otherwise never consider it.

    Y'know, halo effect?
  • Reply 6 of 31
    More proof that Google is a ship without a rudder. I'd love for someone to list a single Android App that didn't already have a vastly superior version already available on the desktop (either in a browser or standalone).

    And as people have pointed out, not all Android Apps work properly anyway, making this pretty much useless.
  • Reply 7 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,584member
    More proof that Google is a ship without a rudder. I'd love for someone to list a single Android App that didn't already have a vastly superior version already available on the desktop (either in a browser or standalone).

    And as people have pointed out, not all Android Apps work properly anyway, making this pretty much useless.
    List of currently available apps for Chrome is here:
    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/apps

    If someone is already intimately familiar with a particular app on their Android phone why not make it available to them in Chrome too if it works well there? That's up to individual developers to pursue or not. I think in your haste to dismiss web apps out-of-hand your're not looking at the bigger picture.
  • Reply 8 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,825member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TimMyMan View Post



    Why would you want to run phone apps on a desktop? This seems to be a solution in search of a problem. People near universally hated Metro apps which is essentially the same thing.



    Metro apps?  You mean the Windows 8 apps in the Modern UI?  Those are "essentially" a completely different thing to this.  How are they in any way alike?  And I don't think they were universally hated either.

  • Reply 9 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,825member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Sounds like the next generation malware trojan horse software. Once loaded, it will act like Flash, Java, Word macros and all the other cross platform software that messes with your system and never really delivers anything of value but opens up your Mac to all sorts of trouble. I don't trust Google to deliver clean software that isn't trying to grab my personal information for sale. Simple as that.




    I don't know about you, but for me Word (and Excel) macros deliver a lot of value.  Weird inclusion in that list.

  • Reply 10 of 31
    crowley wrote: »

    Metro apps?  You mean the Windows 8 apps in the Modern UI?  Those are "essentially" a completely different thing to this.  How are they in any way alike?  And I don't think they were universally hated either.

    They are touchscreen apps that work horribly on desktops just like these will be. And, yes, they were universally hated hence the extreme backtracking on Metro apps in Windows 10.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    waterrocketswaterrockets Posts: 1,231member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post



    More proof that Google is a ship without a rudder. 

     

    This is a development tool. Another option to emulate and test Android apps. On the Chrome/Mac front, in a development house with software on many platforms, like MapMyFitness, this can be a great tool. Your iOS developers can quickly pull an apk on their Mac and provide UX feedback to the Android developers.

     

    It's not set up as a consumer product. You can't install anything from the Play store, as you need the apk. You can get an apk from any installed app, but that's not a top-level consumer activity either.

  • Reply 12 of 31
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 679member

    just what i need—spyware on my iMac. no thanks.

  • Reply 13 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,584member
    mac_dog wrote: »
    just what i need—spyware on my iMac. no thanks.
    LOL. You almost certainly already "have spyware" on your iMac. Worse you probably can't do a thing to prevent it either short of never visiting any website. Even Apple tracks your usage when you visit one of theirs which you might not have been aware of. They just may not use cookies to do so which seems to be the only tracker most folks seem to know about.
  • Reply 14 of 31
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    List of currently available apps for Chrome is here:

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/apps



    If someone is already intimately familiar with a particular app on their Android phone why not make it available to them in Chrome too if it works well there? That's up to individual developers to pursue or not. I think in your haste to dismiss web apps out-of-hand your're not looking at the bigger picture.

     

    I see. So instead of giving a real-world example you simply provide a link to the Chrome store. Nice try, come back when you actually think of a useful example.

     

    If I have a useful App on my phone, then I'll use it on my phone that I always have with me where I can enjoy ALL of the features/functionality (instead of a stripped down browser based one).

     

    Apple has the right idea on this (like Continuity). There are only certain things that make sense to move seamlessly from a mobile device to laptop/desktop. Like messaging, e-mail or phone calls. Or having access to photos or files. These are the things that you need access to - your CONTENT. All the major companies that people store content with (iCloud, DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive) or that handle messaging/email (Gmail, Outlook, WhatsApp) already have the ability to work with your mobile device and laptop/desktop. You don't need to run a half-baked App in a browser when the major services ALREADY have excellent websites to do this for you.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post

     

     

    This is a development tool. Another option to emulate and test Android apps. On the Chrome/Mac front, in a development house with software on many platforms, like MapMyFitness, this can be a great tool. Your iOS developers can quickly pull an apk on their Mac and provide UX feedback to the Android developers.

     

    It's not set up as a consumer product. You can't install anything from the Play store, as you need the apk. You can get an apk from any installed app, but that's not a top-level consumer activity either.


     

    It's useless as a development tool since lots of Apps (and many functions) can't be emulated properly in a browser and some outright don't even work. The only good development tool for App testing is an actual phone/tablet (preferably several).

  • Reply 15 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,584member
    I see. So instead of giving a real-world example you simply provide a link to the Chrome store. Nice try, come back when you actually think of a useful example
    If it's not important enough for you to look for yourself then why should anyone else bother to do it for you? Geesh...:rolleyes: What's that saying about give a man a fish?

    It's useless as a development tool since lots of Apps (and many functions) can't be emulated properly in a browser and some outright don't even work.
    If it's useless as a development tool then developers won't use it. Oh, wait, developers are using it....

    To paraphrase your comment:
    "It's useless useful as a development tool since lots of some Apps (and many functions) can't can be emulated properly in a browser and some outright don't even properly work."
  • Reply 16 of 31

    More malware for everyone! <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 17 of 31
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,825member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TimMyMan View Post





    They are touchscreen apps that work horribly on desktops just like these will be. And, yes, they were universally hated hence the extreme backtracking on Metro apps in Windows 10.



    They don't work horribly.  Some gestures aren't great, but Modern UI apps are perfectly functional.  And they work great on tablets, so the hatred is unlikely to be universal.  Modern UI apps are still in Windows 10, they've only backtracked on pushing the launcher to the forefront as the default on desktops, which is far from extreme.

     

    And it's Modern UI, not Metro.  Has been for a while.

  • Reply 18 of 31
    crowley wrote: »

    They don't work horribly.  Some gestures aren't great, but Modern UI apps are perfectly functional.  And they work great on tablets, so the hatred is unlikely to be universal.  Modern UI apps are still in Windows 10, they've only backtracked on pushing the launcher to the forefront as the default on desktops, which is far from extreme.

    No they worked terribly. Hence why they are now windowed instead of full screen and have all sorts of tweaks to try to make them less horrendous on desktops. Oh and next to no one uses Windows 8 tablets so that miniscule market doesn't override all other consumers.
    crowley wrote: »
    And it's Modern UI, not Metro.  Has been for a while.

    No, it's Metro as 99% of people call it. No one cares what Microsoft marketing is trying to rename it to.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    waterrocketswaterrockets Posts: 1,231member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    It's useless as a development tool since lots of Apps (and many functions) can't be emulated properly in a browser and some outright don't even work. The only good development tool for App testing is an actual phone/tablet (preferably several).


     

    The inability to test everything doesn't mean you can't test anything. It's a much easier way to test various screen sizes, and to get a feel for UI flow without having to keep a stack of devices charged and ready to go on your desk. This is not a solution for full system test of an app, but it is a big help for integration testing.

  • Reply 20 of 31
    evilutionevilution Posts: 1,356member

    If you throw enough shit, something will stick, so, keep throwing Google and one day you'll come up with something.

     

    Bluestacks currently already plays Android games on Windows and Mac but people only use it to play hacked APIs so they can cheat in games.

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