"Chromecast, oh, how I love thee. Let me count the ways..."
A short while ago, that list would've been nice and short, but less than a month after the public SDK release, the Chromecast has gone from cheap streaming gizmo to awesome content conduit. Before I got internet and Chromecast set up at my new apartment, I was always watching cable, commercials and all.
I haven't used my cable since. At all.
See, the Chromecast is amazing in its simplicity, and nearing omnipresence in its infinite uses. See, when the Chromecast launched, there were a few 'white listed' apps, but if your media of choice wasn't on there, you could always cast it via Chrome for desktop and the Chromecast plugin. It wasn't always brilliant (especially on older computers or lower-bandwidth networks), but it was workable. I cast weather or traffic maps to the big screen a few times just so my family could see. And I am an Android user, so all my content was pretty much supported (still waiting on Newsstand, Google!).
Months passed. A few more additions... and then finally, an explosion. Google released the Cast SDK and the floodgates were opened to developers everywhere (iOS, Android, Chrome on Mac/PC). Ideas that had once been feverish dreams of madmen were now here and ready to play - kinda. The list is growing every day, but there's still lots to come, and lots to anticipate.
But mostly there's still a lot to understand.
If Chromecast has a problem (besides not supporting 5Ghz, which isn't huge but would've been nice), it's that the streaming stick is a so-dumb-its-confusing problem. Wait, I use this to what? I have a Roku/Apple TV/Smart TV; why don't I just use that?
sigh Lesson one...
Chromecast is not a set-top box, it is not a console. It is a landing pad. You throw content at it and it pops up and plays. That's it. That's all. And this is better than your whatever-it-is-you-have because not only is it simple, it is platform agnostic, it is people-friendly (and more importantly party-friendly), and it is being picked up by many, many developers not just for entertainment but for practical uses as well.
You heard me, this is also a tool for business. Using AllCast, you can stream local media to a TV, like the video for your presentation (assuming Drive gets updated for this at some point, the presentation itself could be cast to the Chromecast as well). There's an app coming called TextCast, and it's designed for businesses to cast specials, menus, notices onto TVs. The preview image is a menu, and it looks simple enough: you pick your layout, type your text, and cast it.
No more printing massive menus that change every week, or dealing with those silly chalkboards. A cheap HDMI display and a Chromecast and you're in business (just keep that Chromecast on a password-protected network - y'know, the one you don't share with your customers).
No more paying for cable for your waiting room TV, just have a Chromecast and free wifi. Your clients will prefer it (free wifi always goes over well) and they can pick the content themselves (or have a tablet mounted next to the TV with a selection to choose from).
Babysitters can bring a Chromecast along, plug it into any TV, connect, and let the kid go to town on Netflix or Hulu.
Dayframe can turn any TV into a giant digital picture frame, and you can control and change out the content without messing with memory cards or the horrible interfaces those all have.
Or you can just run a yule log from YouTube. They had a content last Christmas for it, so there's plenty to choose from. The possibilities with YouTube alone are impressive. In a classroom you can use it to bring up videos to accompany lectures (and homework could be finding a video you think the class would learn from and enjoy). In a shop, you can use YouTube playlists for reviews of products (imagine the potential, especially considering so many businesses produce YouTube videos themselves as either a customer service or means of marketing).
And the best part is we're only getting started. The SDK is open, and anyone with an app (or even just the idea for one) can start coding and playing around with it. Cast IKEA instructions to your TV while you put together that bookcase. Watch educational seminars and TED Talks. Watch a cooking show while you prepare the food. Or just veg out to Pandora or Google while you read.
The sky's the limit (I think that's why its one of the first images that pops up on the Chromecast).
All we have to do is reach.