Chrome OS will be getting a lot more useful in the future, if a recent rumor proves to be accurate. It has to do with sideloading apps, which many Android users are probably already familiar with.
Sideloading apps involves installing apps from third-party App Stores or anywhere other than the Google Play Store. To do this on Android smartphones, users just need to tweak a bit of their settings to enable installation of apps from unknown source, but the process is not as simple on Chrome OS, the operating system powering Google's Chromebooks.
How To Sideload Android Apps On Chromebooks
If Chromebook users want to sideload Android apps, they have to go through several hoops before Chrome OS finally lets them do as they wish, including enabling Developer Mode, which is not as easy as it sounds. To toggle Developer Mode on, users must first disable boot verification and other security features. Then on certain Chromebook models, they also must input a special code as the device boots up so the mode can be enabled.
It appears Google might make this cumbersome process easier for Chromebook users.
New Chrome OS Code Commit Found, Suggests Sideloading At Enterprise Level
A new code commit discovered recently suggests that Google might allow users to manually sideload Android apps without toggling Developer Mode on. The commit, found by Chrome Story, talks about adding an enterprise policy so that administrators can decide if devices in their network can sideload Android apps or not. This suggests, however, that sideloading will only be available at the enterprise level — at least initially. It's possible Google can enable this feature for all Chromebook users, even those who aren't enterprise users or aren't part of a company or organization with administrators managing their computers.
When these features become live, administrators of Chrome OS, say, at schools or businesses where they primarily use Chromebooks, will be able to much more easily enable or disable sideloading. It will allow them to distribute certain apps needed for installation without having to deploy them via Google Play.
Keep in mind, however, that sideloading is disabled by default because that's one way of keeping Chrome OS secure, as it's obvious that installing apps from third-party sources come with security risks. Users should know that when they enable sideloading, they open their system to vulnerabilities that otherwise wouldn't have gotten it had sideloading been disabled. It's a useful feature, sure, but it comes with certain tradeoffs some users probably wouldn't want to sacrifice.