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.”
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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.
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.