It’s now possible to run Android apps in the Chrome browser — it just takes a little bit of work.
Google has officially brought four Android apps to Chromebooks, so it would seem that it’s only a matter of time before more and more Android apps become officially available on the Chrome browser. If you can’t wait, however, let’s run through a few options for running Android apps in Chrome right now.
Note: We’ll be looking at Chrome on Windows here, but the same processes should work on Macs or Linux devices as well.
Prerequisite: ARChon Custom Runtime
Before getting started, you’ll need to download this Chrome extension. This allows Android apps to work properly on Chrome, but it’s still very much unofficial and unstable, so don’t expect everything to work perfectly.
There are three download options available for the runtime that depend on your system. To check if you have a 32-bit or 64-bit browser, you can navigate to chrome://chrome in your address bar, or you can click the three line menu button in the upper right and select About Google Chrome at the bottom.
Once you’ve downloaded the correct version (and this may take a while, as it’s a 100MB file), unzip the folder. Then type chrome://extensions into your address bar to view a list of all your current extensions. Here, select the Developer Mode box in the upper right.
Now you’ll want to press Load unpacked extension and select the folder where you unzipped ARChon. Make sure it is enabled, and you’re good to go. You can now choose from one of the three options below, depending on which you find easiest.
Option 1: APK Conversion in Android App
Your Android apps as they are now on your phone or tablet are not able to run in Chrome. To make this possible, they have to be repackaged to be compatible with ARChon. This would be a pretty complicated task — if it weren’t for this Android app: ARChon Packager.
Once you’ve got the app downloaded and installed, open it up. You’ll be given two options for choosing an app: an installed app, or an APK from your phone’s storage. An APK is the installable file for an app, but you don’t need to worry about that if you just want to use a regular app you already have installed. Select Installed application and choose next.
I chose Pulse as the app I want to try on Chrome. You can then select if you want it to run in phone or tablet mode in Chrome, and if it should be oriented for portrait or landscape. You can also give it access to the files on your PC or enable ADB if you’re a developer.
Once you hit Finish, the app will be converted into a nearly Chrome-ready ZIP file. You then need to transfer that file over to your computer either by using a USB cable, or by selecting the share button at the end of the process to email it or upload it to your preferred cloud storage service.
When the ZIP file is on your computer, unzip it. You’ll then want to go back into chrome://extensions, select Load unpacked extensions, and select the unzipped folder. Once it’s loaded in, click Launch to access the app.
And there you have it. Using this method, Pulse ran perfectly for me.
But if you don’t have an Android device, the next option might be better for you.
Option 2: APK Conversion in Chrome App
For this option, you’ll need to download Twerk from the Chrome Web Store. You will also need an APK file already, the installable file for an app. APKs are notoriously hard to get hold of because of the high likelihood of malware in so-called “cracked” apps, but there are quite a few legitimate APKs available for download straight from the developers over at the XDA forums.
If you have obtained a legitimate APK, this method will work perfectly. Otherwise, move on to option 3.
The process here is simple. Launch Twerk from the Chrome App Launcher or enter chrome://apps into your address bar. Then, locate your APK file in your local file browser and drag it over into the Twerk window.
You can then select several options, like whether to run it in portrait or landscape, and build it by pressing the pink Android at the bottom. Then you’ll choose where to save it.
After that, head back into your Chrome extensions (chrome://extensions in your address bar) and select Load unpacked extension. Find the folder that Twerk created and select it. Your app should now be in Chrome, and you can launch it just like any other Chrome app!
Option 3: Find Converted APK Online
This option is probably the simplest out there because you don’t have to tinker with any of your own apps. For this one, you’re just going to download apps that are already compatible with ARChon — the biggest disadvantage is the limited amount of apps available like this.
Visit this community-created Google Spreadsheet of apps that have been tested with ARChon. Most of them have a download link at the far right to download the files, but you take your own risk when downloading these. There is no guarantee that they are safe files, so exercise regular caution. You can also try browsing this Chrome APKs subreddit.
Once it is downloaded, unzip it if it’s zipped, go to your Chrome extensions page (chrome://extensions in your address bar), and select Load unpacked extension. Find the unzipped downloaded folder and select it to load it into Chrome. You can now find it at chrome://apps to launch like a regular app!
What Is Your Favorite Android App On Chrome?
As we bide our time until Google makes this an official feature, this is your best bet for getting tons of Android apps running on your Chrome browser.
What is your favorite app that you’ve been able to get running? Do you have any other methods of running Android apps on Chrome that you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments!
Explore more about: Google Chrome.