Google Cast is for most people associated with the Chromecast, a $49 HDMI stick (you can pick up cheaper if you keep your eyes open!) that allows you to push pretty much any content from your phone or tablet to your screen. More recently the Nexus Player joined the party and thanks to Google being fairly free and easy about opening up their APIs to third party applications, streaming music players such as Sonos, Samsung and LG Music Flow speakers are now utilising the Google Cast APIs. Speaking of, with Google IO 2015, there’s some new tricks in those APIs.
Available to both Android and iOS the Remote Display API will allow developers to essentially use the Chromecast as a second screen for your device; creating a more immersive experience such as (as pictured below) using your mobile device as a controller when gaming or as a remote for media playback apps such as Plex.
While Casting your Android screen is an existing option for users, the new Remote Display API allows mobile developers to build a tailored, integrated second screen experience, without requiring an identical mirroring of content between mobile devices and the Google Cast device.
It’s a good and obvious step towards making the Chromecast more useful to game developers, hopefully we’ll see some exciting ideas come out of this from developers with the nous to push the boundaries.
Autoplay & Queuing
The ability to create playlists of media to stream from the internet isn’t foreign, but the ability for the API to pre-load the next video that you’ve queued will allow developers more flexibility in their delivery of the media playback experience that end users receive. If you (like I do) have an internet connection with poor download speeds, this could really improve the overall experience when using your Chromecast.
The Game Manager API is making the Chromecast and Android TV a viable Multiplayer gaming option. The Play Services 7.5 introduction of Game Manager means that it becomes much simpler for developers to use the same central device to keep multiple players devices and game data in sync with one another.
To make it easier to synchronize game state across a potentially large number of players, Google Play services 7.5 introduces the Cast Game Manager API. This API, available for Android via the GameManagerClient class, iOS, Chrome, and for receivers, allows you to send messages and state changes to all connected clients and the receiver. All of the send methods also have a method that includes a specific player ID, making it possible to have multiple players sharing a single sender device.
One of the announcements made during the Keynote this year was that users of various Google Cast technology have pressed the cast button over 1.5 Billion times and are on average consuming 66% more content per day than at the time of launch in 2013. That’s some pretty big numbers and with these announced API improvements for developers, they’re sure to increase even further by the time Google I/O 2016 rolls around.
What sort of use (in hours) and usage patterns do you get from your Chromecast/Nexus Player or Streaming Music Player?