Skip to main content

Google Chrome hack lets Android apps run on any device

A developer has made a custom version of Google's recently released "App Runtime for Chrome," allowing Android apps to run on Windows, Mac and Linux devices.

The officially released software only works on Chrome OS and with certain apps, but the unknown developer, going by the name "Vladikoff," has created a version that runs Android apps on any operating system that the Chrome web browser runs on.

Read more: Chrome OS and Chromebooks: Android apps help, but there's still a long way to go (opens in new tab)

The hack utilises Native Client, a Google project that enables Chrome to run native code within an Internet browser. While the App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) software was only released as an extension for Chrome OS, Native Client extensions are intended to be cross-platform.

Vladikoff's custom build of ARC, dubbed ARChon, can be sideloaded by dragging the file onto Chrome and should allow apps to run on any desktop version of Chrome 37 and up. Users still need to convert the raw Android app packages (APKs) into a Chrome extension, which can be carried out using another Vladikoff-developed tool.

Instructions on how to get Android apps running through the Chrome browser are available via a recently created subreddit, /r/chromeapks (opens in new tab), as there are a number of extensions that need to be installed.

According to ArsTechnica (opens in new tab)the hack does crash pretty frequently, but this is to be expected as the lack of Google Services running in the background limits the number of apps that will work.

With only four apps officially sanctioned for ARC, it is clear that there is more work to be done on Google's side before the majority apps will be compatible. However, the hack does show the potential of running Android apps across any desktop computer with Chrome installed.

Read more: Android apps now available to download for Google's Chrome OS (opens in new tab)

The hack demonstrates what could be a hugely profitable venture for Google, making 1.3 million Android apps available on every platform.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.