Google brings Android apps to the desktop (Wired UK)


Google


It’s the sort of announcement that could be written off as a late April Fools — Google is aiming to make Android apps compatible with any machine that can run the Chrome browser. 

The new Arc Welder tool serves as a wrapper for apps designed for smartphones or tablets, allowing them to run in a desktop environment, expanding on the developer-focused Arc tool that’s been in place since September 2014.

While that was targeted at the wider Chrome OS, predominantly used on Google’s Chromebook laptops, Arc Welder extends compatibility out to the browser. Other Google Play features, such as payment processing and integration with maps, will also carry over. Not all APIs will work — so far, only OAuth2, Google Cloud Messaging, Google+ sign-in, ads, and maps/location do — but that handful does mean many apps converted to work through the new runtime environment should retain full functionality.

Although Arc Welder could hypothetically run anything, given desktop machines typically lack the accelerometers, GPS, and touch interfaces that phones and tablets come equipped with as standard (though the latter, at least, is slowly changing as more monitors come with the feature), not every app designed for a smart device will necessarily benefit from being on your computer. Games are likely to be popular ports though, at least those where a mouseclick can replace a tap.

The real promise for Arc Welder lies in new apps that take advantage of cross-platform universality. A developer could now create one product that works exactly the same for home users as it does for mobile, with seamless transitions between the two. Google is basically telling people that they can write one program, and they’ll push it out to any platform short of iOS.

Given Android has over 75 percent of the smartphone market and Chrome is by far the most popular web browser, that’s a potentially massive consumer base at whom creators can market, and streamlining the development process could lead to some very interesting features.

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2 April 2015 | 2:12 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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