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Summary:

Six months after first releasing Chromecast, Google is now opening the floodgates for more apps by giving developers full access to the Google Cast SDK.

chromecast feature art

Countless apps could become Chromecast-compatible any day now: Google officially released the Google Cast SDK Monday, which allows developers to add Chromecast integration to their Android, iOS and web apps. Chromecast PM director Rishi Chandra said during an interview earlier this week that he could eventually see millions of websites and mobile apps add support for Google Cast: “Our opportunity set is fairly large.”

Google released its Chromecast streaming stick six months ago, but initially limited support to just a handful of apps, including Netflix, YouTube and the company’s own Chrome web browser.

In the following months, a small number of hand-selected apps was allowed on the platform, including Pandora, HBO Go and Hulu Plus.

Developers of other services were able to access a preview SDK and experiment with Chromecast support, but Google didn’t make it possible for them to actually publish their apps to end users. Google executives said at the time that the SDK necessary to add cast support to third-party apps simply wasn’t ready yet, and Chandra told me this week that Google used the time to improve the reliability of the SDK, as well as respond to developers who were looking for easier ways to send media to Chromecast.

Chandra said that Google had initially given developers a lot of flexibility to integrate casting capabilities from scratch into their apps. But not every app developer really needed such a full-fledged integration. That’s why the now-released SDK also offers developers simpler ways to just beam a photo to the TV screen, and be done with it. Developers who want to go further can still do so, said Chandra, adding that he hopes to see a lot of interesting implementations of the technology in areas like multi-player gaming.

chromecast youtube picture

Google also made some changes to the SDK under the hood, one of which is that it is now part of the Google Play Services framework. This will allow users to get access to Chromecast-capable apps without the need to update Android itself, a move that’s consistent with Google’s efforts to make fragmentation across Android less of an issue.

Google is making this latest Google Play services app for Android available now, and has already updated Chromecast streaming sticks out in the field with a new version to get them ready for the new SDK. iOS users will have access to cast features as soon as publishers add them to their apps, and the company is rolling out an updated Chrome extension today.

Chandra said that the process of adding cast capabilities to apps and sites should be largely invisible to users. “Whenever an app is published, the cast button will just show up,” he said.

Google VP of Product Management Mario Queiroz told me last month that the company wants to grow the Chromecast ecosystem this year. He mentioned the release of the SDK as part of that goal, but also said that Google is looking to take Chromecast abroad soon. “We are going to be launching in a number of international markets,” he told me, adding that people will be “pleasantly surprised” by the scope of this international expansion.

  1. Does this mean Chinese HDMI Stick makers can now make their own Chromecast dongles? Or is the SDK only for app developers and not for the hardware makers?

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    1. It’s software only. Google has said that they want to bring Cast to additional devices, but I’d imagine that will be a bit more controlled…

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    2. The original Chromecast is only $35, and sometimes $30 if on sale… Why would anyone wanna buy a Chinese knockoff? How much money can you save by buying the knockoffs? Even if these knockoffs is selling for $1, I won’t even buy it, because if not made right, the hardware will overheat easily.

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      1. This is not about knockoffs, this is about tens of millions of HDMI Sticks, Set-top-boxes, Consoles, Phones with HDMI outputs, Android TV, Google TV, all other Smart TV OS, upcoming HDTVs with even more powerful ARM Processors inside of them, it makes no sense for all those tens of millions of devices to not be able to come with Chromecast support pre-loaded, without needing to buy a Chromecast HDMI dongle. It makes absolutely no sense that Google ships Android TV (the new Google TV) and that all those uber expensive Android TVs are not able to support their new Chromecast standard. It makes no sense that tens of millions of devices made in China have Miracast, DLNA, UPNP, SAMBA, USB Host, YouTube, Android etc etc etc but that those may not support Google’s new Chromecast protocol, makes no sense. Google must be clear about when they will open up the protocol to other hardware. For now Chromecast is a proprietary protocol, which goes against Google’s core value.

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  2. good, it needs more apps because now it is so useless, I don’t use it.

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    1. Finally, the world can stop weeping for you.

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  3. I’m not sure how excited to be about this development. Does this mean that anyone can publish a Chromecast app at any time? Is there still a whitelist? Why weren’t some new apps released with this announcement? Frankly, until I actually see a new app with support, it’s difficult to know how important this announcement is. We already had a preview SDK that (almost) no one could use, having an official one doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade without some app announcements.

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    1. take it easy sam, i think google just literally announced it like an hour ago! how can you expect new apps released with this announcement? app developers still have to “bake” the chromecast sdk into their apps

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      1. Google may have just announced it an hour ago, but they have had months (over 7) to prepare. Are you really telling me that they couldn’t scrounge up a handful of app developers to announce alongside the SDK? I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect some basic competency when it comes to maximizing publicity. It doesn’t bode well for the future of the platform if the people in charge can’t pass PR 101. That’s what actually worries me. The people in charge are acting like engineers. That almost never ends well for consumer products. And I very much want the Chromecast to succeed.

        If Google knew what it was doing, it would have been releasing a new app every few weeks and heavily publicizing it every time. Instead, they released 10 apps at one time. There new master plan appears to be letting app developers handle announcements and publicity. This screams amateur hour. Samsung doesn’t sell the most phones because it makes the best phones. It sells the most phones because it knows how to market them. An SDK is important, but how the Chromecast is publicized and advertised is much more important in the long run.

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        1. They have been… there is something like 12 apps supporting CC right now and it’s been out for only 6 months. I think you’re confused what a SDK is

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  4. This is something techies have been waiting a long time for. It looks like the streaming arms race is back in gear.

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  5. Yet, after finally releasing the SDK, people are still complaining. People amazes me sometimes. Android 3.0 Honeycomb sucked because “Google released a half done OS” Now the Chromecast SDK “should have been released months ago” How about “Geez, I guess it got released now because it is ready to shine”

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  6. The Rev 15 of Google Play Services is not available on SDK Manager yet, now sure how long it will take. (Im)patiently waiting … :)

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  7. Sure would go a long way if the chrome app on iOS system was available on Chromecast.

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  8. The SDK requires revision 15 of Google PLay to run. But that’s not available, nobody has it. So this whole thing is vaporware even on 6 February, three days later.

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  9. I am totally perplexed…I can not cast from Chrome Browser on my Android phone (only a pc or chromebook)…does anybody else understand a reason for this obvious miss? So annoying it makes me want to spit. The whole point is to CAST stuff from apps on your phone…yet their own mobile browser on my phone won’t CAST!

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    1. Arthur Wetselaar Wednesday, March 26, 2014

      +1 Greatcabs!

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  10. Split Browser 2.9.0 (and trial 2.4.0) for Android are Chromecast ready! Cast away!!

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