You’re likely aware that these days many Chromebooks (certainly new ones) happily run Android apps, but it will reportedly soon be possible to sideload apps from outside the (relatively) safe haven of Google Play – at least for enterprise users to begin with.
At the moment, if you want to use Android apps from outside the Play store, it is possible to sideload APKs (Android Package Kits), but you need to be in developer mode to do so.
The latter allows for serious tinkering with your Chromebook, but it’s obviously not designed for the average user – rather, it’s aimed at developers, as the name suggests – and it slackens things on the security front, among other issues.
However, Chrome Story (opens in new tab) spotted a new Chromium commit, which reads: “Add ARC sideloading device policy.
“Adds a simple boolean device policy to give enterprise administrator control over allowing APK sideloading for Chrome OS / ARC users.”
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Essentially, this would allow full sideloading of said APKs when running in Chrome OS with no developer mode necessary, the caveat being that it’s talking about giving enterprise admins control over whether this is allowed.
So when (or indeed if, as this isn’t definite yet) this filters down to Chrome OS, it may only allow business users to benefit from the option (assuming their admin decides it’s okay and enables the feature).
Hopefully, though, it may morph into an option which is accessible to the average Chrome OS user, assuming that Google decides any security risk in allowing roaming outside the Play store isn’t too great, when moving beyond the more controlled enterprise arena.
This is certainly a space to be watched for those who want additional freedom with Android apps.
Meanwhile, at the weekend, we also heard that another Android feature is on its way to Chrome OS: namely notification badges.
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