I’ve been running Android apps on my Chromebook for the past week, thanks to Google’s App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) beta software. Officially, ARC only supports four Android apps, but unofficially, you can convert any Android app to run on Chrome OS or a computer with the Chrome browser. The conversion is a manual process, however, and you need to find and download the Android .apk, or installable app file to make it work.
Now a new Android app called the Chrome APK Packager removes both of those issues.
On the XDA Developers site, a forum member named bpear96 created the Android app that converts other Android apps to run on Chrome. Not only does it remove the manual process involved in the conversion — which requires additional software on your computer and uses command lines — but it also brings a level of safety to the process.
Here’s why: Instead of having to search for Android app .apk files and hope that they’re safe from malware, the Chrome APK Packager simply uses the Android apps you already have on your Android device. In most cases, those would have come from the Google Play Store, which is a more secure source than the wild, wild web.
To use the Chrome APK Packager, you simply choose which of your already installed Android apps you want to convert. It then churns out a zip file containing all of the necessary files to install the Android app as a Chrome extension in the browser or on a Chrome OS device.
The packager app doesn’t guarantee compatibility — some apps, such as Skype, will work, while others I’ve tried haven’t — but it does make the process quick, easy and a bit safer.