We all have these moments when we wish our favourite apps would run on our desktops as well as our phones. Instagram on the PC? Neat. Flipboard on your desktop? Perfect.
If you own an Android phone then this wish is about to come true. Last September, Google launched a little magical project called App Runtime for Chrome (ARC for short). ARC allowed developers to run Android apps on Chrome. ARC was a closed beta stage, and for quite some time was only available to a handful of developers.
Until recently, when Google finally released ARC out to developers everywhere as an app: ARC Welder. ARC Welder also comes with 5 common Google Play Services: OAuth2, Google Cloud Messaging, Google+ sign-in, Maps, Location, and Ads. It’s a small list, but it allows quite a few apps to run without crashing, provided the developers do their part. As you may have noticed the list doesn’t include Play Store’s in-app purchasing. Developers can still use custom code to support in-app purchasing with the Chrome Web store.
So how does this work?
a) Get the ARC Welder app for Chrome.
b) Attach your APK, select your options.
c) Hit Launch.
If it doesn’t crash, voila: you’ve got your app running on your Chrome browser. Technically, there is a also an upload process, where you push your ARC-welded app onto the Chrome Web Store and it ends up being runnable by everyone who uses Chrome (a good example of such “porting” is Vine, which you can now download on Chrome. It’s precisely this developer-tuned aspect that gives ARC its potential. As it stands, the ARC welder isn’t a magical solution – it still needs the full list of Google Play Services APIs, for instance.However, the potential ARC Welder has is massive. Write an app on Android once and have it run practically everywhere else.
As it stands, the ARC welder isn’t a magical solution – it still needs the full list of Google Play Services APIs, for instance.However, the potential ARC Welder has is massive: write an app on Android once and have it run practically everywhere else. It’s the old cross-platform promise of Java resurrected because of paltforms that the majority of the Internet already uses.