Android apps can now run on Windows PCs, Macs and Linux machines thanks to new developer tool
Google has released a developer tool that will allow Android apps to be used on any computer that can run the Chrome web browser.
This includes Windows PCs, Apple Macs, Linux machines, and of course Chrome OS computers. However iOS users are not on the list.
The tool is called Arc Welder and is in early beta. Essentially, it builds on the “App Runtime for Chrome” project, released last September, that allowed Android apps to run on the Chrome operating system.
But now the tool allows Android apps to be used within the Chrome browser, irrespective of the underlying operating system. Developers can run their app on ARC via a new Chrome app packager.
Arc Welder also includes support for Google Play services, so when apps are converted to different platforms, they do not lose access to payment systems, maps and other functions, according to the BBC.
But it remains to be seen whether the developer community will embrace the tool, or whether they will still prefer to develop native apps designed specifically for a particular operating system.
And it also seems unlikely that the ported app will retain the full functionality of the native version. For example, a touch based interface is fine on an Android mobile phone or tablet, but less so on a traditional Windows PC that relies on mouse and keyboard input.
This is not the first time that a company has opted to allow its native apps to run on rival operating systems.
Last December for example, Microsoft Azure RemoteApp essentially delivered Windows apps to Android and iOS users.
And earlier this month, Samsung revealed that its tablets will come pre-installed with Microsoft mobile applications, as the two companies seek to expand their share of the enterprise market.
That deal will allow Samsung and Microsoft to tackle IBM and Apple, who last year announced that they were teaming up to provide iPads and applications to Big Blue’s business customers.
And Microsoft of course last year launched new and updated applications for mobile devices that allowed iPhone, iPad and Android users to open and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents without an Office 365 subscription.
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