Chromecast update breaks ability to stream from external sources [Updated]

August 25, 2013 - Written By William Bratz

Chromecast for those who don’t know, is Google’s $35 dongle that essentially turns your normal TV into a Google TV, via a HDMI dongle powered by USB (if your TV supports it), or via a wall outlet. Chromecast gives you the ability to stream media from Google Play (music/movies), Youtube, Netflix, or from your Chrome browser. The appeal of Chromecast to many of it’s current or potential owners, is the possibility to be able to stream any content to your TV via the Chromecast dongle. This dream was one step closer to being realized with the beta release of an app called Allcast, made by Koushik Dutta (Koush), who is known for the development of the ClockworkMod custom recovery tool. Allcast (also known as aircast) is an app that allows users to stream media from their phone’s Gallery, Dropbox, or Google Drive, directly to Chromecast. Koush, in a post to his Google + page says:

Heads up. Google’s latest Chromecast update intentionally breaks AllCast. They disabled ‘video_playback’ support from the ChromeCast application.

He goes on to say that this is the second time Google has released an update to Chromecast disabling playback from external media. Koush also expresses his thoughts that Google is not planning on making Chromecast indie developer friendly, and is going to cater mainly to media companies. This news is a hurtful blow to myself as a Chromecast owner, and to the entire Chromecast community. Without the ability to steam whatever media we choose to our Chromecast, it’s usefulness will be greatly lessened in many households. The future of Chromecast’s popularity lies in this question, exactly how open will Chromecast be? Without letting indie developers like Koush freely develop apps for Chromecast, it appears the popularity of Google’s $35 dongle may decrease quickly. The concept of Chromecast is groundbreaking in its potential however without support from indie developers, Chromecast may be very limited in its practical application. Hopefully in future updates to Chromecast Google will be a little more friendly to all developers in order to help this device reach its full ability, and satisfy the desires of the community.
Update: In a statement to The Verge, Google addressed the community’s concerns that the recent update to Chromecast intentionally breaks the ability to stream local media content.In their statement Google says the Google Cast SDK is only in developer preview mode and is not yet finished. Also to expect it to change often until it comes out of developer preview and is fully released. Google went on to specifically say that they want to support all types of apps including those used for local content. Koush did say when he initially released Allcast (Aircast), that he was able to gain the ability to stream local content by reverse engineering the code. It sounds like our dreams to one day be able to stream any type of media from any number of sources to our Chromecast still may become a reality. Here is Google’s direct statement via The Verge:

“We’re excited to bring more content to Chromecast and would like to support all types of apps, including those for local content. It’s still early days for the Google Cast SDK, which we just released in developer preview for early development and testing only. We expect that the SDK will continue to change before we launch out of developer preview, and want to provide a great experience for users and developers before making the SDK and additional apps more broadly available.”