Developers, start your engines: The barrier to new apps that work with Google's Chromecast streaming device is down. On Monday morning, the company publicly released its Google Cast Software Development Kit (SDK), opening the doors for any app maker or website developer to stream video and other media to a TV via the cheap Chromecast stick.
"We're releasing the final documentation and terms of service for the Google Cast SDK," said a Google representative. "Developers can (now) start building Google Cast into their apps and prepare for release."
Previously, only a few special Google partners could make full use of the kit to release Chromecast support—others could only play around with it. (Technically, Google required them to "whitelist" or pre-register specific Chromecast devices for testing purposes. That meant developers could build Chromecast functions into their apps, but no one else could actually use them.)
What this means for users is that a new crop of Chromecast-compatible streaming sources are about to come rushing in.
A Thumbs-Up From Developers
See also: Life With Chromecast: 6 Months Later
Koushik Dutta's AllCast was one of the first independent apps built to work with the Chromecast. It allowed Android users to cast stored video, images and music to the TV stick—at least until Google blocked it with a Chromecast software update last year.
So Dutta released AllCast without it last month. Now the app, which works with the Roku, Apple TV and other streaming devices, could see Chromecast compatibility come back, thanks to the opening of the Cast SDK. The developer said on his Google+ page that AllCast should be updated soon, once he's checked for changes in the Cast APIs.
[Update: AllCast has been revised to support Chromecast, and the updated version of the app is available in Google Play.)
When I spoke to him a few months ago, PlayOn CEO Jeff Lawrence radiated frustration with the delays in the Cast SDK rollout. His company sells a media server that streams Web video and stored media from a PC to the TV via game consoles, smart TVs and gadgets like the Roku. While PlayOn had done the work to support Chromecast last fall, it couldn't release its update.
It shouldn't be long now, though. “A lot has changed since the developer preview release, so we are digging into the documentation see what updates are required to make PlayOn compatible with Chromecast," he told me via email. "Once PlayOn is officially 'Chromecast-ready,' it will make more than 60 [Web] channels, including Hulu, CBS and NBC, available to users."
The Kit And Kaboodle
John Affaki, engineering manager for Google, outlined a few of the finer points for Chromecast developers on the Google Developers Blog:
- Developers can use the default media player for standard HTML5 playback. Or they can build their own custom receiver application for non-media applications. Support for different types of streaming—including MPEG-DASH, HLS, and Microsoft Smooth Streaming—are available in the Media Player Library.
- Sample apps are available for Android, iOS and Chrome. Android devs can also use the resources in the Cast Companion library.
- The Google Cast SDK for iOS rolls out starting today. The SDK for Android will follow shortly, within a few days, as part of Google Play services 4.2 update for Android devices.
- Developers have a Google Cast developer console, so they can manage and publish their apps. They'll also be able to register Chromecasts for testing apps before publicly publishing them.
As for customers, it shouldn't be long before they see plenty of casting options emerge. Rishi Chandra, Chromecast's director of product management, told CNET that "with the Chromecast, we're resetting consumer applications. [People] should expect their phones or tablet applications to just work on the television."
And now, it seems more are finally allowed to do just that.