Google had been testing a tool called ARC (Android Runtime for Chrome) for Chrome OS since a while. While it ran pretty smoothly, it was in its alpha stages and was limited to select closed group members.
Google has now rolled out a stabler beta to masses. You can get any Android app running on your PC whether you’re on Windows, Linux, Mac OSX or Chrome OS.
ARC runs Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS thanks to Native Client (abbreviated “NaCL”). NaCL is a Chrome sandboxing technology that allows Chrome apps and plugins to run at “near native” speeds, taking full advantage of the system’s CPU and GPU. Native Client turns Chrome into a development platform, write to it, and it’ll run on all desktop Chrome browsers. Google ported a full Android stack to Native Client, allowing Android apps to run on most major OSes.
ARC includes Google Play Services, potentially opening up compatibility for many apps that depend on Google’s proprietary ecosystem APIs. It’s not the full list of APIs from Play Services, though, only a handful: OAuth2, Google Cloud Messaging , Google+ sign-in, Maps, Location, and Ads. Developers have to specifically enable Play Services on ARC with ARC-specific metadata, too, so end users can’t go too crazy with other people’s apps. ARC is still missing a big chunk of Play Services, which will stop some apps from working. The biggest missing piece seems to be the Play Store’s in-app purchasing, which isn’t in the API list. The Chrome Web Store supports in app purchasing, but it would require custom code from the app developer. More on this, should be available soon.
So as long as an app doesn’t heavily depend on Play services, it should run fine on your PC. e.g. Twitter, Flipboard run perfectly fine.
How to Run Android Apps on PC
Step 1. Install ARC Welder in your chrome browser (Chrome v40 or better is needed)
Step 2. Run ARC welder and set a directory where you would like to keep all your android applications.
Step 3. Download APK (Google it or use this Chrome extension) for the app you would like to run on your PC.
In future, Google plans to make these steps easier by making these apps available via Chrome App store. If you’re an app developer and would like to make your Android app available on Chrome, check instructions here.