It’s primarily for devs — but doesn’t require developer mode
Chromebooks are able to run Android apps, but mostly just ones from the Google Play Store — if you wanted to install something that’s not officially sanctioned, you’d generally need to flip your device into a far less secure Developer Mode and/or beam it over from a tethered phone. That won’t be the case with Chrome OS 80, though — that release will allow developers to deploy apps directly to their own Chromebook, according to Google.
Google tells us that this feature won’t allow end users to sideload Android apps, though, as we and other publications initially suggested — it’s technically not sideloading in the traditional sense of downloading and installing an APK file at all, but rather installing your own app using Google’s developer tools on the same Chromebook you presumably built it on.
That means it’s not quite the long-awaited sideloading feature that AboutChromebooks’ Kevin Tofel, who spotted the news at Google’s Android Dev Summit, reported on earlier today. Perhaps sideloading is coming in a future version of Chrome OS, but it doesn’t appear to be Chrome OS 80.
Correction, October 24th at 12:15AM ET: Added information from Google that this is not actually sideloading in the traditional, user-facing sense.