The fall of 2016 heralded a new age for one of Google’s more famous products, Google Cast, or as it is now officially known as Chromecast built-in. The name may be less catchy and more of a mouthful, but it more accurately represents what is really going on. So adamant is Google with the name change that it has thrown the old term out to the wolves and has already began phasing it out from existence. Even third party companies and device makers have already started using the new nomenclature.
Chromecast has been around for several years now and users have been able to use the technology to create a bridge between their devices and a larger display such as an LCD TV or monitor. According to Google, the name change solidifies the identity and purpose in the users mind, by helping them identify the devices and technology that they can use on Chromecast.
From a brand recognition perspective, the name change was huge, but Google also did something which it is hoping will secure the future of Chromecast, the release of the developer kit. For the first time, Google is opening up Chromecast to the wonderful ideas and progress of mobile app developers. Google didn’t do this just for the fun of it. As previously noted, Google Cast or Chromecast has been around for a couple years, but adoption has been slow, weak even. Upon closer inspection, Google attributed Chromecasts poor performance to a lack of quality content. Google, true to form, gave up control and let the legions of developers around the globe have at it. Google’s bet is that developers will get their hands on the SDK and create content that will attract, entice and engage users.
Mobile app developers have finally been given the tools required to integrate Cast SDK support into the apps and websites they have created. The Android API has since been added to Google Play Services and everything is all set to go. The single requirement is Google’s Repository revision 39 which for the most part is handled with ease. Google made sure to make the process as simple and hassle free for the mobile app developers in hopes that they will not only be able to make content for Chromecast, but also excited to do so.
The name change and SDK release were also accompanied by a host of improvements aimed to increase functionality and experience. These include but are not limited to upgrades to BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) scans, the return of Nearby Notifications and much needed updates and fixes to Firebase. A popular use for Chromecast is for video viewing and users will be happy to hear that it now supports 4K video.
There are of course, updates and upgrades that even though the user may never notice they will be thankful that it was implemented. Not the least of these is the integration of a new process to expose CastState. This may not sound impressive or even interesting, but it plays a huge role in the stabilization of sessions. The same goes for the MediaRouteSelector and the two new ad break methods. These are not eye-catching features, but heighten the user experience.
Chromecast has some exciting days ahead of it. The improvements and the SDK release will no doubt fuel a small gold rush of sorts as developers rush to create and get their content on Chromecast. For mobile app developers, it provides them with yet another avenue to connect with and engage with their audience. It gives them an opportunity to utilize new technology and even develop new devices. Within weeks of the SDK release, the mobile app development community has already been abuzz and Google's own development team has been hit with a deluge of questions in their forums and Hangouts regarding various intricacies. And this is just the beginning. The Chromecast developer movement is just in its infancy, who knows what kind of apps, programs, devices and innovations will result from this.
The fact of the matter is that Google initiated a sort of reboot by releasing the SDK. It knew where the Google Cast was headed and knew that it could do better. Google had the insight to come to the conclusion that the problem did not lie with the technology, nor with the user, but from the lack of content. Audiences don’t just want innovation and the latest piece of code, but also crave interest and excitement. Google knew that it could not provide this all on its own, and that’s why opening Chromecast to mobile app developers is such a monumental and pivotal step in its evolution.