Ubuntu – can Android apps be used in Ubuntu?


Is it possible to use Android apps in Ubuntu? This question was allready asked and answered before but now we are over 4 years later. Is the situation unchanged?

Best Answer

How to Run Android Apps on Linux

To run Android apps on Linux through Chrome you will need, obviously, to install Chrome. Version 37 or higher is required. Honestly, if you’re going to be playing with a potentially unstable hack then you might as well download and install the unstable version of Google Chrome for Linux, too.

Adding the Chrome PPA. Already got a version of Chrome installed? Skip this step:

wget -q -O - https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub | sudo apt-key add -
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google.list'
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install google-chrome-unstable

You can install the Dev Channel version via the command line by running:

sudo apt-get install google-chrome-unstable

Next you need to download the custom-made -ergo officially not endorsed by Google or Chromium- Android Runtime created by Vlad Filippov. This differs from the official version in a number of ways, the chief being it can be used on desktop versions of the browser.

Download ARChon v1.1 (for 32bit Chrome) from GitHub
Download ARChon v1.1 (for 64bit Chrome) from GitHub

Once the runtime has fully downloaded you will need to extract the contents from the .zip files and move the resulting directory to your home folder.

Now to install ARChon. Open Google Chrome and click the hamburger menu. Navigate through to the Tools > Extensions page and, near the top, check Enable developer mode.

Finally, click on the load unpacked extension button and select the folder you previously placed into your home folder.

The Runtime alone doesn’t do much by itself so you will need to create a compatible package from an Android app.

Running apps

There are some methods to do this:

Running a downloaded APK:

  • Automatic method:

    • Install Twerk from here into Chrome
    • Drag and drop an Android .apk file from your desktop into the main Twerk window.
    • Enter an app name, choose an icon from your hard drive and set your preferences for how the app should run (portrait mode, tablet mode, etc.) using the sliders.
    • Tap the pink Android button and a neat, runtime-ready bundle is spat out at the other end, ready to be installed as an unpacked extension.

    • The settings on offer are suitably comprehensive too, letting you:

      • Set custom name and icon
      • Package for ‘Archon’ or official runtime
      • Set tablet or mobile layout
      • Set landscape or portrait mode
      • Toggle scaling (may prevent some apps working)
      • Toggle SD Card support
      • Set offline functionality
  • Manual method (Not recommended):

    To convert APKs manually -something you really don’t need to do any more if you use one of the apps mentioned above- you will need to install the chromeos-apk command line JavaScript utility. This is available to install through the Node Packaged Modules (npm) manager.

    • Install Node:

      sudo apt-get install npm nodejs nodejs-legacy
    • Ubuntu 64 user? You’ll want to grab the following library, too:

      sudo apt-get install lib32stdc++6
    • run the command to install the script itself:

      npm install -g chromeos-apk
    • Depending on your configuration you may need to need to run this latter command as root. If you’d prefer not to install npm modules with sudo, you can do so with some jiggery-pokery.

    Now you’re in the home straight. Head over to Google to find an APK of an app you want to try out, bearing in mind not all Android apps will work, and those that do may be unstable or lack features.

    • Place your wanted Android APK in your home folder, then return to Terminal to convert it using the following command, replacing the APK name with the one you want:

      chromeos-apk replaceme.apk --archon
    • The command will take a few seconds to do its thing. Maybe have a blink. Actually, don’t blink.

    You now have an ARChon-rocking Chrome APK extension-y folder-y thing waiting in your home folder. All that’s left to do is install it to see if it works!

    • Head back into the chrome://extensions page, tap the ‘load unpacked extension’ button once again but this time select the folder the script above created.

    The app should proceed to install without issue, but will it run without issue? Open the Chrome App Launcher or Apps Page and launch it to find out.

Exporting apps from your android device

You can export the apps already installed in your Android device with this method.

  • Install this app from google play.
  • On first launch you’ll see an overview of what the application intends to do. Tap next and you’ll be presented with two options:

    • Select an installed app
    • Select an APK you have downloaded

Select the first option in the list * Tap Next and choose something from the list of apps already installed on your device.

  • The utility will ‘pull’ the package it needs from what is already on your phone.

  • Set your preferences

  • On to the next screen where you can set device and orientation mode for the app as it will be on Chrome. Think about how you use the app and how you would prefer to use it on the desktop.

  • While ‘tablet’ and ‘landscape’ modes will be the optimum experience for most, choose what suits your needs.

  • After packaging is complete you need to transfer the resulting zip archive(s) from your phone or tablet (in the ‘Chrome APKs’ folder) to your PC or Chromebook.

  • How you go about this is up to you, but for small files you could use Google Drive, Dropbox or a similar cloud syncing service.

  • Once you have the archive(s) ready on your desktop, laptop or Chromebook you will need extract them and move the resulting folder(s) somewhere safe.

  • To install them open Google Chrome and head to the ‘extensions’ page. Check the ‘Developer Mode’ box near the top of the page to reveal the ‘Load Unpacked Extension’ button. Click this, select the extracted folder from the previous step and the app will install.

Finally, launch it to see if it runs!

Source 1: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2014/09/install-android-apps-ubuntu-archon
Source 2: http://www.omgchrome.com/twerk-chrome-archon-apk-maker-desktop/