Chromecast, the HDMI dongle launched by Google back in July, could be about to get a lot more interesting, with a couple of indicators found in the update to Android 4.4.1 showing that Android Mirroring to Chromecast could be coming soon.
The road to the Chromecast becoming a more usable device has been a long one, with changes to the Chromecast Beta SDK coming slowly over the course of the last four months, at times changing core functionality and frustrating at least one well known Chromecast developer in the process by removing the ability to stream content locally to the Chromecast, before publicly stating that they are still looking at adding this functionality once the SDK was finalised.
But Google has not been static with regards to development of Apps for Chromecast courting large name content providers such as Pandora, HBO Go and Hulu Plus, all of whom have launched Chromecast compatible Apps during the period that the SDK has been in development, possibly frustrating smaller developers such as Shifty Jelly, who have already included the Chromecast function in their apps using the Beta SDK and simply wait the approval of Google before releasing the update.
A recent invite to developers inviting them to a Hackathon being run by Google this weekend, which will allow them to get a chance to test-drive the upcoming Google Cast SDK, points to a very imminent release of the long awaited SDK and a possible flood of new Apps, but this still does not address the issue of streaming local content from your Android device to the US$35 dongle, but new code in the Android 4.4.1 update which rolled out this week points to the ability to ‘cast’ your Android screen to Chromecast.
Firstly the update to Android 4.4.1 includes a minor change from within the ‘Display’ settings. Previously you could simply turn Wireless Display on but after the update to 4.4.1, the wireless display option has now become ‘Cast Screen’.
While in and of itself it’s not a huge change, the Wireless display option has been used to connect to MiraCast devices previously and it still only discovers Miracast dongles not the Chromecast, meaning the addition of the ‘Cast’ terminology could just be a mere change in terminology, there are other indicators from Android 4.4.1 that point to Android mirroring to Chromecast within the code itself.
Koush added an update to Google+ last night which shows the specific lines of code that he says are indicators that Google will be bringing the ability to mirror your Android device to Chromecast at some stage :
With the API still closed, and available as Koush says only to Google and OEMs it limits the ability to cast ‘anything’ to the Chromecast, showing that Google is still playing it safe with the concept of streaming media to their latest attempt at a loungeroom takeover. By not opening up local streaming to all and sundry and hence controlling the experience Google seems to be trying to appease content providers who in the past blocked access to previous Google content streamers like the Google TV.
Exactly when the casting to Chromecast could be activated is not clear, but would surely be timed to coincide with the release of the Google Cast SDK, and the resultant stream of Chromecast enabled Apps being released to Google Play this would herald and with all indicators showing a December launch of the SDK, could we all be streaming content from our Android device to our Chromecast by Christmas?