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

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.