How to run Android apps like WhatsApp and Instagram on Mac

WhatsApp Android Mac OS X

ARC, or App Runtime for Chrome, is a tool that allows you to run many Android apps right on a desktop machine. For the most part, the apps look and function like they do on an Android phone or tablet.

Why is this so cool? Well, it means that you can now have access to whole variety of new apps. Some apps, like WhatsApp, have no native desktop counterpart, so it’s especially nice for apps like these.

While it isn’t a perfect 1:1 solution, and some apps outright don’t work, it’s worth trying if there’s an app that you want that isn’t otherwise available on the desktop. In this post and video, we’ll walk you through the steps of configuring Google’s ARC Welder tool, and show you how to run multiple applications as well.

Note: You’ll need to perform these steps in Google Chrome if you’re running OS X.

Step 1: Add the ARC Welder app to Google Chrome

Step 2: Download an Android app APK

Step 3: Run ARC Welder, and select a local directory

Step 4: Click the Add your APK button, and point to the APK you downloaded in Step 2

Step 5: Click Download ZIP and click Save to save it to the directory you established in Step 3

Step 6: Open the directory from Step 3 and extract the package ZIP file

Step 7: In Google Chrome click Window → Extensions and check the Developer mode check box

Step 8: Click Load unpacked extension and point to the directory you extracted in Step 6 and click Select

Step 9: Open Launchpad and click on the app icon to launch the app

Again, not every app will work, so you’ll have to play around with it to see if your desired app is supported. I was able to personally test WhatsApp and Instagram, and both worked fairly well. Obviously, things like Camera support aren’t there, and then there’s the whole issue of Google Play Services.

ARC is in beta, but I’m impressed by what I’ve seen in this early stage. What do you think?