The Google Chromecast is a $35 device which you can plug into a TV to stream content from the internet to your television while using your phone, tablet, or PC as a remote. Officially only a few apps and services including YouTube and Netflix are supported at the moment. But the Google Cast SDK is still in beta. When it comes out we could see support for all sorts of additional tools.
For instance, PlayOn has started showing a neat trick for streaming content from more than 60 internet video services to your TV by passing content through a PC first.
Some folks would rather play outside of Google’s SDK though. Now there are a few new tools that make it easier to install custom firmware on a Chromecast.
Shortly after Google released the Chromecast, developers figured out how to root it. And shortly after that, Google released a software update that made rooting much more difficult.
If you do happen to have a Chromecast that’s root-ready though (and which probably hasn’t connected to the internet in a while, since it would download a root-killing update almost immediately), there are a few things you can do to keep the ability to modify and replace the built-in software.
Developer tchebb has released a new tool called FlashCast, which is basically a custom recovery utility for the Chromecast. You can use it by preparing a USB flash drive with FlashCast and then connecting that drive to a Chromecast using a powered USB to micro-USB cable.
FlashCast lets you flash modifications to a Chromecast much the way you use a recovery to flash an update.zip file to an Android phone.
Meanwhile, if you want to run Google’s latest Chromecast software, want to keep root access and want to make sure you don’t accidentally download an update that removes root, developer tvall has been releasing pre-rooted versions of the Chromecast software which block Google’s automatic software updates, helping you keep your bootloader unlocked.
It takes a little while to build and test these builds, so you won’t get Google’s latest Chromecast firmware right away. But it’s a way to keep a Chromecast almost up to date while preserving the ability to modify your device manually.
Neither of these tools will be much use to most Chromecast users — but if you happen to have a Chromecast that still has a vulnerable bootloader, it looks like it’s a bit easier to keep things that way.