Neither website has paid apps, because downloading APKs for paid apps is piracy. If you really want to download a paid app to use with ARC Welder, you’ll have to look into that yourself.

Run The Downloaded APKs in ARC Welder

When you have your APK ready, simply launch ARC Welder in Chrome, and choose a directory where ARC Welder can write some temporary files. After you’ve done this, click to find and add the APK you want to try, which will bring you to a page of configuration options. Google says it’s best to leave these at their default values. To launch the app, click ‘test’.

ARC Welder can only run one app at a time. If you want to open a different app, you’ll need to close the app currently in use, load a new APK, click to remove the old APK from ARC Welder, and then launch the new app.

I tried a number of apps in ARC Welder in Chrome 56 on Windows 10, and found that app support is hit or miss. Some key Android apps like Gmail, Maps and Facebook crash immediately after they load, while others like Keep and Microsoft Word hang indefinitely on their load screen. YouTube loads but throws up an error as it doesn’t have access to Google Play Services. Instagram doesn’t work, and neither does Snapchat. But there’s good news! We did find some apps that did work from our brief test period:

  • Twitter loads and operates perfectly. Animations are a bit slow, as you’d expect from emulation software, but the experience is decent enough.
  • Plex also seems to work. We could play videos in the app with minor audio distortions.
  • AccuWeather had some flickering issues at times but did load.
  • SpeedTest.net works if you want to do some network performance testing
  • Slack works fine

Most games we tested did not work, or loaded to a black screen. This isn’t hugely surprising, as ARC Welder isn’t built to handle complex 3D workloads. An old game like Temple Run does load, but it renders at about 3 frames per second and you can’t make it past the menu screen anyway.

So, it could prove useful to have more Android apps that also run on Chrome. Right now, there aren’t very many, so we’ll have to see where app developers take this.

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