Earlier in the year, Google had announced that it was working on bringing Android app compatibility to ChromeOS. However, developer Vlad Filippov has gone one step further. He has tweaked Google’s Android Runtime extension to enable Android apps to be installed as Chrome browser extensions on Windows, Linux, and Mac.
Here are the quick steps to get started with ARChon runtime, which lets you run unlimited number of Android APKs on Chrome browser.
Open Chrome extensions tool and enable ‘Developer mode’.
Click on ‘Load unpacked extension’ and select the extracted instance of ArChon from Step 2.
Find the modified APK for ARChon from the web or download the APK and follow the instructions here to modify a new APK.
Extract the APK contents.
Click on ‘Load unpacked extension’ and load the APK.
Now, click on ‘Launch’ to start the app.
If you’re confused, check out the video demonstration below.
ARChon currently has several major limitations. The biggest is that it’s not automated, and the entire process has way too many steps for a casual user. It requires obtaining and modifying the Android app package (APK), which is not straight forward. It also doesn’t work for all apps. However, the Reddit community has been actively testing various apps. A small list of compatible apps and their direct download links is available here. Currently, there are better and easier ways to run Android apps on your desktop. However, this development is still exciting as it hints towards a future where all Chrome users might have access to the millions of Android apps available on the Play store.
Way back in 2010, just as the controversy surrounding Facebook’s Open Graph was exploding, we had reviewed a nifty bookmarklet called ReclaimPrivacy that could automatically scan your Facebook settings and highlight areas of concern. Recently I came across a Firefox and Chrome extension called PrivacyFix, which does the same thing, but better.
As soon as you install the extension, it will scan your currently-logged-in Facebook and Google accounts, as well as your browser cookies to identify privacy threats. Once it finishes scanning, you will see a neat report, which highlights potential areas of concern. Privacyfix explains each of the identified issues, and assists you in fixing them.
Privacy Fix also maintains a database of popular websites that track and retain user data. For websites with an opt-out policy it offers to send a mail requesting to opt-you out. Additionally, it can delete existing tracking cookies, and block tracking cookies from being placed in the future.
Privacyfix is a simple, hassle-free solution that goes a long way towards avoiding accidental privacy breaches on social networks. Both Facebook and Google offer great privacy tools. Unfortunately, they are either difficult to find, or too confusing for most users. By automatically identifying and highlighting potential issues, Privacyfix makes things easier for the user. It’s a tool that even your parents could use with confidence. Go ahead and download it. There is no reason not to.
Google rolled out an updated YouTube layout a couple of days back. The new design makes YouTube more consistent with other Google properties. While the reaction to the new design has been mixed, one aspect of the new YouTube has drawn almost universal ire. YouTube is now left-aligned, much like Google Plus. On high-resolution displays this results in loads of white space on the right of the screen, and makes the YouTube surfing experience extremely jarring.
Fortunately, it’s rather simple to fix this design issue. All you need to do is install the “Youtube Center Aligned” user script. The script works on Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. You can get the installation instructions for Firefox and Opera at UserScripts.com. To install in Chrome, simply download the userscript, open the extensions manager (Tools –> Extensions), and drag-and-drop the downloaded script onto Chrome. Alternatively you can install the Tampermonkey extension for Chrome, and then install the userscript.
Even with this script, there is a lot of wastage of screen real-estate. My favorite YouTube userscript is Unique Youtube Skin, which automatically resizes the video to make full use of your screen.
Beginning this week, Google is forcing Gmail users to switch to the new interface. While the new interface looks slick and modern, it suffers from numerous poor design choices that have users up in arms. Some of the issues are fixable with a few settings tweaks. For example, you can use the compact, high-contrast theme to reduce the wastage of space and enhance readability. But for others, there is seemingly no cure.
Thankfully, few users are taking up the challenge themselves, and are trying to make the new Gmail more intuitive through extensions and userstyles. Among the better attempts is Gmelius, which is a free, cross-browser compatible extension that tweaks and refines the new Gmail interface.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the stuff that Gmelius does:
It reclaims space by collapsing the Search and Share bar, stripping away the footer, and removing the People widget. Gmelius can also be configured to block all advertisements.
It enhances the appearance of Gmail by adding subtle row highlights, and disabling fancy fonts and colors in incoming mails.
It makes navigation more intuitive by colorizing the navigation icons and supplementing them with text.
It adds an auto-scroll to the top action that can be triggered by clicking on the black Google bar.
Gmelius is dead simple to configure, and the tweaks it offers go a long way towards enhancing the new Gmail interface. The new navigations icons drove me nuts for weeks, and even after using the new interface for a several months, I still get confused occasionally. I only wish that I had discovered Gmelius sooner. There’s undoubtedly a lot more stuff that Gmelius could do. For example, it could bring back the reply links beneath every message or re-enable color coding of conversations. However, Gmelius already does enough for me to encourage you to go ahead and install it. It’s currently available for Chrome, Firefox & Opera.