Google has updated the App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) project with an interesting, and potentially highly important feature – the ability to convert Android apps over to run not only on ChromeOS, but also inside Chrome installed on a PC, Mac, or Linux desktop machine. While this was theoretically possible with the original release of ARC late last year, Google has streamlined the process with its own ARC Welder app.
ARC uses Native Client (or NaCL for short) to operate in these alternative environments, and can be used as a development platform because apps run natively and take advantage of the system’s processor and graphical ability. The ARC Welder app cleverly wraps up the app’s APK ready for submission to the Chrome Web Store, but it can be used by anyone with access to the APK to launch an app inside Chrome.
Previously, ARC didn’t include Google Play Services – the tools required to make various Android apps operate on a smartphone, meaning some apps wouldn’t open at all. The new version includes a slimmed down version of Google Play Services, which while not allowing all apps to operate faultlessly, it does open the door for future updates.
The introduction of the new ARC version, NaCL, and the ARC Welder app suggests Google is moving towards a universal development system, where an Android app can be quickly ported over to work on almost all popular operating systems, aside from Apple’s iOS mobile software.
ARC is a developer preview at the moment, and you can learn more about it, plus find the download link for the ARC Welder app on Google’s dedicated website here.