Google kills support for streaming local videos to Chromecast (kinda… for now)

Google’s Chromecast is an inexpensive device designed to let you stream internet video to your TV. But as folks quickly figured out, you could use the device for much more by creating software that lets you stream local video to your TV. For instance, Koushik Dutta has been working on an app called AllCast that lets you stream videos from your phone’s Gallery (or from Dropbox or Google Drive) to a Chromecast, and Leon Nicholls created a tool called Fling that lets you send local videos from your PC to a Chromecast.

Neither of those apps work anymore.

Google just rolled out an update for the Chromecast’s software, and it seems to disable support for streaming content directly from a PC or mobile device to the $35 media streaming box.

Update: Google clarifies that the Chromecast could eventually support local video streaming — but that the official SDK is still very much a work in progress that will likely change several more times before it exits the developer preview stage. 

AllCast

That’s a shame, because these third party apps made the Chromecast a whole lot more useful — and Koushik Dutta was even working with the CyanogenMod team so that future versions of that version of Android would let users stream anything on their phones or tablets to a TV.

But it’s also not terribly surprising, because what Google really wants to let you do with a Chromecast is stream internet video from sites like YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play Movies. In fact, when you’re using Google’s official Chromecast software, you’re not sending a video from your phone or PC to a TV at all. Instead, you’re sending a command to the Chromecast which tells the little device to go ahead and start streaming the content directly from the internet. That way playback continues even if you turn off your phone or computer.

If you’ve been following the internet video streaming space for the last few years, you’ll know that the folks who own the copyrights to some of the best content tend to exert control over how it’s viewed. For instance, if you want to stream movies or TV shows from the Hulu website, you can do it for free (in the US) on most desktop or laptop computers. But if you want to use an Android or iOS phone or tablet, you’ll need to pay $7.99 per month for a Hulu Plus subscription. You’ll also need the subscription if you want to stream Hulu to your TV using a Roku or other media streaming box.

So if Google really wants companies like Hulu to get on board with the Chromecast platform, the company may feel pressure to lock down the ecosystem so that only approved apps and functions work.

On the other hand, there’s been a way to stream local videos from your PC to a Chromecast since day one — and it continues to work even after the latest software update. All you have to do is install the Google Cast extension for the Google Chrome web browser, then drag and drop a video into a browser tab. Then hit the Cast icon in the Chrome toolbar and choose to display that browser tab on your TV. If you have a reasonably fast computer, it’ll transcode the video in real-time and send it your Chromecast over your WiFi network at resolutions up to 720p. 

You can also use the same tab-casting feature to stream Hulu content to your Chromecast — free of charge, although you’re stuck with the same 720p limitation.

It seems a little odd that Google built in this local content loophole into the Chromecast and Google Cast software, but decided to crack down on third-party apps like Fling and AllCast.

It’s worth remembering that Google still hasn’t released the official SDK (software developer kit) for Google Cast. There’s only a beta SDK available and it’s still subject to change. AllCast and Fling were both designed to work without using Google’s SDK, so there was always a risk that Google could make a change that would disable those apps. And unlike Android and Chrome OS, both of which are based on open source software, Google has never promised the Chromecast would be an open source protocol.

In other words, if you’re looking for a deliberately hackable device, you might need to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a $35 device for streaming videos from Netflix to your TV while using your phone as a remote, the Chromecast is still a pretty impressive device.

via The Verge

  • digi_owl

    I guess there is always cheapcast and a Android dongle…

  • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

    One of the reasons that many Google apps remain in beta purgatory for eons, if not forever, is trenchant megalomania and an overwhelming desire to exert control, a.k.a., “do evil.”

    • dustinwent

      One alternative to Chromecast is a new Miracast HD Wireless adapter ($39) which became available this week and doesn’t limit the content you display, and also offers more features and works much more like Apple’s $100+ Airplay Wireless display technology–

      One of the first sources to carry this new device is TabletSprint

  • sbeckham2

    An alternative to Chromecast is the new Miracast TV — which doesn’t limit the content you display, and a new Miracast HD Wireless adapter ($39) became available this week, which offers a lot more features and works much more like Apple’s $100+ Airplay Wireless display technology–

    One of the first sources to carry this new device is TabletSprint — worth checking out for this alone… and for Android tablets

    • JRomeo

      Post link to the product page please. That’ll work with the new nexus 7

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        That was a spammer, who has been posting various spellings of that site in comments for months. You can find various miracast dongles at aliexpress, and I suspect other sites like dealextreme might have some. But I’d stay away from the site mentioned in that deleted comment.

      • William4a1000

        Yeah and you probably work for dealsextreme whom rip people off with a no refumd policy – I think most people would rather deal with a company in the USA – like TabletSprint

  • Conception

    That’s Google for ya…one of the main reasons I try to keep my dealings with these guys at a minimum. You never know when they’ll decide to pull the rug out from underneath you…

  • MADMAN

    A Chromecast and a Lacie la Cinema, picked up on the Lacie outlet for $30.00 and I have no problems watching whatever I want. Perfect for me!!

    http://www.lacie.com/support/support_manifest.htm?pid=11484

    • dstarr2

      Do Not buy from Dealextreme mentioned above — they have no Return-Refund policy and have complaints from customers all over the web.

  • Guest

  • Carlos Vargas

    To be honest I am disappointed in the change, I had ordered one of the units myself to replace my media center box.

    The protocol was simple enough you could get away with a simple web interface to push content to the device and have it play. Additionally I am no stranger to changing containers and transcoding the few videos I do have that aren’t h264 to comply to the device’s limitation.

    The only hurdle would have been subtitles but one could throw together a converter in perl/python to support that as well.

    I just liked the idea of not having to repurpose a PC to use as a HTPC and have the file server serve out media directly to the chromecast devices on command.

  • BoloMKXXVIII

    I know Google wants to generate more income by driving everyone to Youtube and the Play store but this will simply hurt Chromecast uptake. Dumb move Google. You will get more functionality by getting one of the Android sticks Brad reviews and using software that lets you control one Android device with another.

  • NeedName

    This is exactly why I hadn’t purchased one, wanted to see what Google would allow, and they did exactly what I expected they would — if you aren’t doing it on the internet Google wants to block it, thus their ridiculousness with devices that are always connected to the internet and insistence to push ChromeOS.

    Wounder if they realize how much this policy drives users to MS & apple?

  • John Morris

    Just another example why this whole brave new world of devices is all about you paying money for hardware that someone else owns and feels perfectly entitled to change the features on at their whim. Can’t really imagine why anyone sees this as a bargain but I’m obviously in the minority since this stuff sells.

  • Fv Ille

    F U Google! That’s really all I can say.

  • ark

    According to the note in ‘RED’ at developers.google.com/cast..

    “Warning: The current Google Cast SDK is a preview SDK intended for development and testing purposes only, not for production apps. Google may change this SDK significantly prior to the official release of the Google Cast SDK. We strongly recommend that you do not publicly distribute any application using this preview SDK, as this preview SDK will no longer be supported after the official SDK is released (which will cause applications based only on the preview SDK to break).”

    Well, there you go. Cry wolf about something else.

  • Bryan Eller

    I still don’t understand Google. They should let the XDA Developers work on Android. If you make it and someone makes a software for it. You should allow it. You shouldn’t lock it up! You’re making profit by selling the item itself. NOT THE SOFTWARE. Just because you’re too greedy to want to generate more profit from HULU AND NETFLIX does not mean you have to ruin your product. Remember this if you lock your products, you’ll end up like Apple Products. ANOTHER COMPANY will end up making something better than your chromecast and out beat your product because it features unlock features such as ANDROID which is still the main Operating system running on mobile devices. Don’t ruin something you’ve started. Else you’ll get too greedy and fall behind losing profit.

    • Daniel Schealler

      At $35 a unit they might not be making that much profit on a per-item basis.

      It’s possible that the strategy behind the item is to break even on product development, manufacture and sales in order to support a wider audience.

      From the outside it feels like the strategy behind Chromecast is to make Internet video more competitive with television when competing for the eyeballs of people who currently prefer the television experience for video entertainment. This would in tern give companies like Google more leverage when negotiating advertising dollars, particularly given that the massively duplex model of Internet video allows for targeted advertising much more easily than television’s traditional broadcast model.

      If I use the product to stream local content, that cuts out the advertising. Which I imagine isn’t why they sold me the product in the first place.

      If I’m right, then what they’re doing makes business sense, despite how much it pisses me off as a potential consumer – to the point that I probably won’t bother getting one now, despite the initial appeal.

      What I really want is a way to watch stuff from my PC on my television without having to try to find and buy a 40 metre HDMI cable that people will probably wind up tripping over in the dark. Chromecast is so damn close, but just not quite there.

      Frustrating for them to get it so close without the follow through.

  • hag

    My next phone and device will be windows.Crap but trustfull. Google has become wprst than Apple.

  • hag

    Android is dead and Google has killed it. Let’s go back to windows.

  • Manoo Bahar

    build your self an htpc its better and can be used a lot more functions than just watching you tube and certain sites…. you get what you pay for… google wants to make profits out their unit…. still it wouldn’t surprise me if there comes a way to bypass the lock soon by developers….

  • ehr

    Fuckbyou goggla

  • dank4us

    Don’t waste time with Chromecast. Get an Android Box that streams Free TV out fo the box! I highly recommend the SkystreamX. It is fully loaded with XBMC and all of the great add ons that allow you watch Free TV and movies right out of the box.

    Android TV Box

  • ANONYMOUS_1337_H4CK3RZ

    Does it still work with real player?

  • J.L.

    Just get the G-box mx2 instead. Runs XBMC and all that. Makes much more sense. They got more info on this site http://androidxbmc.com . Its my favorite android tv box