Greetings techies! It’s that time of the week again! Today’s App Of The Week is Archon Packager. As always, I wouldn’t recommend an app that I didn’t use myself.
Archon Packager allows you to test your Android apps and run them on Chrome. Google has their own app for this called ARC Welder (App Runtime for Chrome). It’s in beta though, and in my experience has been very buggy. “Buggy” meaning I haven’t been able to use it at all.
Thankfully, hardworking developers have provided workarounds in the form of Archon Packager and the ARChon Custom Runtime. They’re also easy to use, so even if you aren’t a developer like me, you should have no trouble using these apps.
To get started, grab Archon Packager (link below) and the ARChon Custom Runtime, available on GitHub. The developer provides different runtimes to use depending on your processor. It works on any operating system that can run Chrome (Note: I’m using OS X for this.)
After you’ve downloaded the correct zip file (Mac users, get the Intel x64 file), open up Chrome. Click the hamburger menu on the top right (three stacked lines). Go into More Tools, then Extensions. Click the checkbox marked Developer Mode. Next, unzip the Runtime archive, then go back into Chrome Extensions and press the “Load unpacked extension…” button. Open the Runtime archive within the popup window, and it should load like the picture below.
You might get warnings like I did, but the Runtime should work regardless. Now on your Android phone, open Archon Packager and follow the onscreen instructions to pick whatever APK file you want. I recommend choosing “Tablet” and “Landscape” so the apps will look better on the desktop. Leave the other options alone; most apps won’t require an external directory. Photo or music apps would but I can’t get any to work anyway.
Not all apps will work, so you just have to keep trying. Technically you should only use Android apps that you have developed yourself, but in reality any app should work provided you don’t try to modify the app beyond using these tools, and you shouldn’t try to upload the app into the Chrome Web Store. Follow basic courtesy and you should be fine.
Hook up your phone to your computer via USB cable and transfer the APK file over. For the purposes of this article I’ve loaded up the esteemed Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and it works great on Chrome OS X. As long as you stick with Archon Packager, there’s no need to tweak the manifest.json file like you might do using other software. Don’t expect a completely perfect experience, because the app thinks it’s running on a phone, but most apps are usable with this.