back to article Google takes ARC Welder to Android, grafts on Windows, OS X

Google has released a tool that runs Android apps on Windows, OS X, and Linux computers via its Chrome browser. The beta-grade utility is called ARC Welder – ARC standing for App Runtime for Chrome, which works as a wrapper around Android software. Google released a beta version of ARC last year to allow Chrome OS users to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Native Client - NaCl

    Salt ? Bitter and corrosive ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Native Client - NaCl

      Good with tequila?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Native Client - NaCl

      Salt is not bitter. It is salty.

      1. Antonymous Coward
        Windows

        Re: Native Client - NaCl

        "Bitter and corrosive"

        Clearly not a reference to salt. Perhaps RICHTO was referring to himself or MSFT there?

      2. EddieD

        Re: Native Client - NaCl

        Depends on which salt...MgS04 is very bitter....

        1. katx5h

          Re: Native Client - NaCl

          But then MgSO4 is not NaCl, not all salts are the same. And NaCl is indeed salty.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Native Client - NaCl

      So no reason to use Android anymore then. Just run your apps on Windows

  2. Jagged
    Unhappy

    How is this any different from NPAPI? Other than "Not made by Google" ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      NPAPI does not allow Google

      to control you. This is the whole point of the Android experience. That's why they had to come up with their own encrypted boot-loader and userland. GNU/Linux was giving end-users too much freedom according to Google's taste.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    I thought Android apps were just Dalvik programs, where Dalvik basically = Java.

    I'm sure there's some tweaking involved but why the native code execution required rather than just a Java translation layer (presumably, there's nothing stopping you modifying the app .apk to include a Java compatibility layer that overloads whatever it needs to?)

    1. GregC

      The Dalvik runtime is deprecated in the latest Android releases in favour of ART - not sure which runtime Arc Welder uses/emulates but I'd guess ART given that's the standard going forward.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        It's Dalvik on Android 4.4.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          > It's Dalvik on Android 4.4.

          http://www.cultofandroid.com/52210/enable-art-android-4-4-kitkat/

          """In Android 4.4 KitKat, Google has introduced a new experimental runtime — ART a.k.a Android Run Time. Being in nascent stages, Google did not replace Android’s current runtime — Dalvik — with ART. Instead, it has hidden it under Settings for developers and tinkerers to play around with and probably get some feedback. """

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Stop

            Very good, but ARC runs an Android 4.4 installation using Dalvik.

            http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2015/04/googles-arc-opens-up-to-developers-runs-android-apps-on-most-desktop-oses/

    2. Vic

      Dalvik basically = Java.

      Dalvik != Java.

      Seriously, if ever you are tempted to post such things, read up on what Dalvik is. It isn't Java, and that is deliberate.

      Source code is generally written in the Java language. but is is not compiled for the JVM - it is compiled for the Dalvik VM. These are very different in a number of ways. It's worth properly grokking this - Java bytecode won't run on a Dalvik VM, and the conversion to Dalvik bytecode is non-trivial.

      Java language != Java VM != Dalvik VM. But many people would have you believe otherwise. It's worth considering what motivates them to take that position...

      Vic.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "It's worth considering what motivates them to take that position..."

        Oracle's patents / copyright on Java. They are for most intents and purposes otherwise the same.

  4. Christopher Lane

    When in Rome...

    ...stay native. What about apps requiring GPS or accelerometers?

    1. John Sanders
      Meh

      Re: When in Rome...

      There are APIs with dummy data for testing purposes me thinks...

    2. Tony Green

      Re: When in Rome...

      Obviously it's not going to be useful for every app, but there are certainly apps where being able to run them on the desktop as well as the 'phone could be very useful.

      For example, as well as on my 'phone I also run my own Beermad app in an Android emulator because I use it to keep my website's database up-to-date, which often means doing a lot of typing and that isn't an attractive prospect on a 'phone. While newer emulator images are far quicker than they used to be (Lollipop on an Atom emulator is surprisingly fast), not having to wait for the emulator to start up will make this a definite "must have" for me. Of course I can't use the app's GPS or camera functionality, but that's no problem.

    3. PNGuinn
      Stop

      Re: When in Rome...

      What about apps requiring all sorts of fishooks into the system and phonehome rights?

      There are some things no sane person wants anywhre near their pc.

      For Linux users too, huh. Sorry - I rate this along with Adobe, Norton, microsoft, systemd.....

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: When in Rome...

        What about apps requiring all sorts of fishooks into the system and phonehome rights?

        Are there Android apps that don't request half a dozen rights for no obvious reason? "Why yes, Kindle App, of course you need access to the phone state. Certainly, Google Keyboard, I can see you must require Internet access. Recording audio is a perfectly reasonable thing for Samsung Keyboard to do!"

        Of course the bloatware vendor-added apps and the social-media apps tend to be worse, so I generally disable the ones in ROM and avoid the downloaded ones like the plague. But I rarely find an app that's both useful and doesn't ask for permissions that have nothing to do with its core functionality. (That said, I don't spend a lot of time looking at Android apps, either.)

  5. Zarno
    Thumb Up

    This is awesome.

    Now I can use andchat on the browser with ZNC, and not have to swap between client UI's all the time. :)

  6. PCS

    Never in a million years would I have that Android crap on my desktop. Nor Chrome for that matter.

    Trust has to be earned and until you stop selling MY data then you ain't nowhere near earning it from me.

    1. phil dude
      Linux

      au contraire...

      This is MUCH easier to sandbox on a desktop system (using Linux) , because you can apply much more stringent controls.

      Unlike Android phones....

      Linux, just got another route to the desktop market...

      P.

      1. moiety

        Re: au contraire...

        I was just thinking something like that...it'd be interesting to SNORT Android apps (especially the built-in "core" apps) and see just what they're leaking to where.

  7. Nathan 6

    I Guess Devs Just Not Targeting ChromeOS

    It seems like every OS failing to attract devs to the preferred API stack just go down the road of running Android apps. I guess as much as Java is hated, there simple isn't an alternative if you want to get tons of "apps" coded for a new OS, unless you Apple.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Yawn

    Is there a single phone app I'd like on my PC? Android or iOS? Can't think of one.

    How long until Google sinks too much effort into these crap app ecosystems and falls into irrelevancy?

    1. Nelbert Noggins

      Re: Yawn

      Phone only App? No, Tablet app on the other hand, there is one that would be very handy in this house. The Roco Z21 controller.

    2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: Yawn

      > Is there a single phone app I'd like on my PC? Android or iOS? Can't think of one.

      Your admitted inability to think is not a constraint on others.

      > How long until <strikeout>Google</strikeout> Microsoft* sinks too much effort into these crap app ecosystems and falls into irrelevancy?

      *reference to WP6.x, WP7, WP8, Metro, Windows RT, ... app ecosystems.

    3. Craigness

      Re: Yawn

      I can think of one, but only because the dev is too lazy to build a web app for it, and I'm sometimes too lazy to reach form my phone. Other times I'd rather use the website than the app when I'm on a desktop. But "crap app ecosystems" is going way too far! Just because an app's not particularly relevant on the desktop doesn't mean it's not relevant on a phone.

  9. johnaaronrose

    Beta!

    I thought that I would try it in Chrome running (under Ubuntu: hopefully, shouldn't be significant). I found a simple app's apk (app is only calculation using user input & displaying results i.e. no GPS, accelerometer, database etc) using browse in Arc Welder: it just changed the popup back to add another app i.e. o=it did not open the app. So Beta = useless!

    1. phil dude
      Linux

      Re: Beta!

      I believe it is possible to "emulate" the missing phone devices under linux.

      Something Android should have done from the start!!

      P.

    2. Tony Green

      Re: Beta!

      In the land of Google, Beta doesn't really have the same meaning it has elsewhere. There are loads of things that have been in Beta for years but are heavily used. Android Studio only came out of Beta recently, for example.

      It probably depends on the app - <smug>the one I wanted to use is working nicely.</smug> The only moderately serious bug I've found is that if you try to install a second app, it tells you it wants to remove the first one (and does, even if you say "no").

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Alan Denman

    Yet another framework to install !

    Yet sound very useful.

    Agnostic in a way, I can't quite see Apple or Microsoft approving

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      Re: Yet another framework to install !

      I agree that MS and Apple won't approve, as such. However, Microsoft are loosening the Windows only stance - look at Office. It's available on Android, iOS and Windows. You could argue Linux too if you run the browser version (yuk). I do think that's as far MS will go though.

  12. IGnatius T Foobar

    This is VERY good and important

    This is the single best move that Google can possibly make. It turns Android into a universal runtime that can work on the desktop.

    Suddenly, every desktop in the world can take advantage of the vast catalog of Android applications. That includes Linux and Mac desktops, along with an army of thin devices.

    This is HUGE.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: This is VERY good and important

      Actually it works in the browser, in particular Chrome. I'd have preferred it if it worked on the desktop myself.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: This is VERY good and important

        > I'd have preferred it if it worked on the desktop myself.

        www.bluestacks.com/

        Or the AMD derivative of this:

        http://community.amd.com/community/amd-blogs/amd/blog/2012/09/27/announcing-amd-appzone-player-powered-by-bluestacks

        1. phil dude
          Linux

          Re: This is VERY good and important

          under bog standard Linux my humble recommendation would be:

          1) create a $FOOUSER for this browser instance.

          2) Get the new $FOOUSER to start Vncserver

          3) access the Vncserver from your normal desktop.

          This would completely isolate the chrome browser, and that is as close to my desktop as I would let Android.

          Furthermore it is very lightweight, and it is possible to share with other devices too.

          P.

      2. Tony Green

        Re: This is VERY good and important

        On Linux at least, there's an option to add a desktop or menu icon. And that works.

    2. Nelbert Noggins

      Re: This is VERY good and important

      Except it doesn't do that yet... it uses a native client plugin to run android apps in a Chrome browser... Lets hope it doesn't turn into ActiveX all over again.

      1. Craigness

        Re: This is VERY good and important

        "in a Chrome browser" is misleading. Chrome allows you to set a web app as an application, run it in its own window (not in the tabbed interface) and pin a shortcut to your OS applications menu. That app is running "in the browser" but the user doesn't see a browser. ARC is similar AFAICT.

  13. Nelbert Noggins

    This could save me having to find another android tablet to replace my Nexus 7. It's never been the same since Lollipop, but there are only a couple of Android/iOS only apps I need.

    If they work well in Chrome on the Linx Windows Tablet then it's just saved the cost and headache of trying to find a suitable Android tablet that isn't cheap tat. My Linx tablet keeps a rock solid wifi connection unlike my Nexus which keeps losing it's wifi connection and therefore DCC command station connection. Reliable wifi is a very useful feature when my Son is play with his trains.

    If it works too well the advancing army of low cost Windows tablets may start to eat into the low cost Android tablet market.

  14. Teiwaz Silver badge

    apps?

    Argh,,,

    I've caught myself calling applications apps of late. (actually only in text 'cause I'm too lazy to actually type 'application' most of the time).

    But to me, an 'app' is a useless frippery, an 'application' delivers useful functionality.

    Perhaps a gross generalisation, but I think I'm on the right track at least 80% of the time.

    1. Craigness

      Re: apps?

      FTP Server Pro is an Android app - frippery.

      Minesweeper is a Windows application - useful functionality.

      Just go with "App" means "Application" and you'll be right 100% of the time!

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: apps?

        Sheesh,

        'FTP Server pro' Vs. "Mind Seeper"

        Can't argue with those "really well balanced and indicative" examples...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ewwwwww

    As I remarked yesterday, Android apps are 99% crap. I'd rather run vanilla Linux on Android hardware, thank you.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Ewwwwww

      99% of the software available in your preferred distro's application repository is probably crap as well. What matters is not the percentage of crap, but whether there are sufficient non-crap applications to do all the things you want to do with your hardware.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Ewwwwww

        Well first of all distributions have a certain degree of quality control. It may not be perfect, but it certainly is better than the non existant quality checking in App-Stores.

        The App market currently is one of those "idiots markets". It's like the "web applications (in PHP)" market or the "windows GUI application" market i nthe 1990s. People make their first attempts at programming on those platforms, and since all of our first attempts were utter crap, those markets are filled with that.

        The great thing about the UNIX philosophy is, that it makes most of those apps completely irrelevant. There's no need for them, as the same can be done with a command line.

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