Run Android apps on Chromebook

Recently, Google has released an Android run-time for Chrome OS that will allow developers to easily port their android applications to Chrome OS (Feel free to watch the Keynote for more information). While this is a step in the right direction (and should have been included with Chrome OS from the very beginning, but I digress) there are only four official android apps available for Chrome OS (Evernote, Vine, Sight Words, Duolingo).

Fortunately, developer Vladikoff has created a tool that will allow you to convert any existing Android app to work on Chrome OS. Not every app will be compatible though, especially if it requires Google Play services. So here’s how to run android apps on Chromebook:




What You Will Need:

  • Chromebook
  • An Android APK (Any app or game that you want to test out)
  • Access to a Windows, Linux, Mac Machine.
  • Node.js 

Step 1: Downloading the Official Run-time

First, you will need to have the official run-time in order to run Android apps on Chrome OS. The easiest way to get the run-time is to download one of the official Android-Chrome apps listed above, such as Evernote. When you install it, it will automatically download and install the run-time.

Step 2: Convert Android App

Next, you will need to use the Node.js tool to convert the android app that you want to use. Download the installer that corresponds to your operating system. Open up the node.js command prompt and type in the following:

npm install chromeos-apk -g

This will install the tool. Next navigate to the location of the Android apk file that you want to use. Then type in the following:

chromeos-apk AppName.apk

Of course, replace AppName with the name of your application. If everything goes well you should see green text along with a folder created in the same directory as your application. Transfer that folder to your Chromebook.

Step 3: Install App

Finally, on your Chromebook open up Chrome and go to settings –>More Tools –>Extensions. Make sure developer mode is checked and select load unpacked extension. Navigate to the folder of your application and choose open.

If all goes well, you should the App in the app drawer (it has the android logo).

I tested an app I made along with the official Twitter app. Both worked flawlessly without any hiccups.

ARCHON Run-time:

So not to spoil anyone’s fun, but you might have noticed a slight problem. With the default run-time listed above, you can only run one Android app at a time. Therefore, when I load my Twitter app, it replaces my HackMe app that I already installed.  Unless you’re satisfied with only having one android app at a time on your chromebook, then you probably want to give this run-time a try. The archon run-time is a modified version of the official run-time released by Google. It was also developed by Vladikoff and will also allow you to run Android apps on Chome form your Windows, Linux or Mac computer. It will replace the official Google run-time. For more information, read this. **You will need to have a 64bit version of Chrome installed in order to do this.**

Step 1: Download the Run-time

Download the archon runtime here. Extract the zip and load it as an unpacked extension in chrome.

Step 2: Convert Android Apps

Perform the same procedure as Step 2 listed above, but add on –archon when you convert the app.

chromeos-apk AppName.apk –archon

Step 3: Install the App

As before, you will need to transfer the folder created and load it as an unpacked extension. This time, when you load another app it will not replace the previous one you installed.  There you have it!