Google’s Chromecast is a $35 device that you plug into the HDMI port of a TV to stream music, video, or other content from the internet. But that’s not all you can do with a Chromecast.
Last year Google added support for some video games which let you use your phone or tablet as a controller. Now Google is introducing new tools that will make it easier for developers to bring games to the Chromecast (and other devices which support Google Cast, including Android TV products).
The first API is called Game Manager, and it allows app developers to create web apps using HTML5 and then create companion mobile apps for iOS or Android. This allows you to fire up the app on your phone, tap the Cast button to launch the web app on the TV, and then use your mobile device as a remote control for the action on the big screen.
The second is a Remote Display API that lets you play more complicated games. Since the Chromecast has a pretty low-power processor, this allows your Android or iOS device to handle all the processing and rendering while beaming the content to your TV through the Chromecast.
Developers can use the Remote API to take existing games and bring them to a TV.
You can also display different content on the TV and the mobile device. For instance, your phone could show a gamepad while your TV shows the actual game. Games can also use your phone’s motion sensors or other hardware.
Lory got a demo of some of the new features at Google I/O in San Francisco, including a demo of a single-player game and another with a multi-player game.
Remote Display supports devices running Android 4.4 or later, or iOS 8 or later.
Google is also adding support for auto-play and queuing to Chromecast, giving developers the opportunity to start loading a second video before the first has finished playing, while giving users a chance to adjust their own queue.