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Some thoughts on the recent Chromecast uproar:

According to our beloved developer +Koushik Dutta, Google has purposefully blocked third party applications that were circumventing the non-finalized Google Cast SDK. Don't freak out. This is okay.

First some history. The Google Cast SDK is not finalized yet. Developers have to get their Chromecast's accepted into the development program to even run their apps that they are developing. That means apps that are being worked on cannot be distributed as 1) you need to have your Chromecast whitelisted and 2) you'll be using the developers app ID.

Enter Koush. Through some code digging and most likely a little bit of awesome, he was able to utilize another method to play content without the Google Cast SDK. Essentially, he found an unsupported, hacked up method to doing it. Awesome.

Doing so meant that the average user such as you and I wouldn't have to wait for Google to finalize the SDK and for Google to approve the app. Remember, all Chromecast apps must have official support/backing from Google.

Back to the third party app issue. They were nice. They added more functionality for those of us that wanted it and we didn't have to wait for an official app from Google. It was also exciting. However, everyone should have realized that an unsupported, hacked up method wasn't going to last forever. There's potential for major eye sores.

All Chromecast apps must be approved through Google. Why? Google wants a great user experience for Chromecast. Google wants Chromecast to be a high quality device that overtakes the living room. Poorly designed and buggy apps need not apply. You all know as well as I do what the Google Play Store looks like. There's plenty of amazing apps and plenty of horrible apps. Additionally, Google TV was a closed system too. Don't forget that Chromecast is from the Google TV team. Google TV isn't the most successful product.

For Chromecast to succeed, Google needs Chromecast to do something Google TV couldn't do and that's have the major backing and support of the content publishers. Us techies might want a little more under the hood but the average guy on the street could care less. He just wants his system to work and work well. Having a closed and monitored system will allow content providers to have their minds eased a little bit, knowing we won't be pirating everything they put out.

I'm sure Google will eventually resolve this issue for us. I'm sure we'll be able to view our pictures and our movies from our mobile devices. Remember, the Chromecast is just a month old. It will get better with time, as more apps are released. In the meantime, let's keep an eye on the developers pushing the envelope like Koush. Because of this whole debacle, Google now knows this is a highly sought after feature.
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46 comments
 
I'm totally behind Google in regards to quality. But, I would like this device to be open as possible.

I want to be able to "cast" my photos and videos to this device. +Koushik Dutta made it possible to cast anything to the device which is what power users expect to do with it.

A good compromise might be to add Miracast support to the Chromecast. Miracast is already built in Android.
 
+Steve Rodrigue Casting your local videos and movies, that support will eventually come, I assume. The code is there, it just isn't finalized.
 
Great post. As hackable as everyone us saying the devices are someone with come up with a more open ROM.

Google's focus is making money in a way that isn't "overly" oppressive. And like you said they can't afford another TV failure. 
 
It's $35, it's Google's product, and I can wait for the SDK. Exploits are patched sooner or later. No need for alarm... 
 
For $35 bucks I'm not going to gripe about it being limited for indie developers for now. Any extra apps are gravy on top. But I agree that Google has to walk a fine line on what they allow to appease the major content makers until they are more comfortable w/ online content
 
+Derek Ross Maybe it's my lack of caffeine, but isn't this what Apple fanboys say about the fruit products?

FWIW, I'm not sad that I bought mine. Disappointed that it's not as open as I'd assumed it would be, but it's still usable for what it was sold as.
 
+Jason Wellband This is exactly what they say about the iPhone and iPad. It is essentially locking down Chromecast to become more inline with a closed ecosystem mentality like Apple TV.

I'm a Google TV Ambassador. I'm going to be honest with you. I would not recommend that product to any family member. As soon as more Chromecast's become available, it's going to be an easy Christmas gift idea.

To be successful in the living room, Chromecast needs a different approach than what we are used to with Android. It has to be.
 
+Derek Ross I think it's great for my grandmother who has to use a logitech harmony remote so she doesn't have to remember inputs and how to switch between them.

But I would like an open Google ecosystem device.

Let me have my cake and eat it too! :-D 
 
Nicely written and excellently thought out article, +Derek Ross!   My geek brain wants to whine, but the tiny 5% of my brain that is grown up agrees with this completely.  :-)
 
What they heck are you doing, writing this kind of well-balanced, thoughtful post encouraging people to be patient and trust Google to do the right thing? Google is evil and is in bed with the government and Big Media to take away all of our rights! Didn't you get the blathering geek radical handbook? </sarcasm>

Seriously, another great post. This is why we all follow you.
 
I don't know if the fact that an unsupported method stops working while api's are being developed is any indication of how open something is or how much it's being locked down..
 
Reads like the post from android central.
 
is +Derek Ross ross a public speaker for google he seems to justify everything goggle does either good or bad


i smell he is being paid for all these by google 
 
+Chris Sucharda Oh yeah? I don't read that blog.  I'm more of an AA, AP, DL, Verge and Engaget kind of guy. Been meaning to say this since since the other day, but had a busy weekend. Maybe great minds think a like?
 
"All Chromecast apps must be approved through Google. Why? Google wants a great user experience for Chromecast. Google wants Chromecast to be a high quality device that overtakes the living room. "  How Verizonish of you.  Sounds like something +Verizon Wireless would say regarding why locked bootloaders are needed.
 
Thank you +Derek Ross for continuing to provide thoughtful posts.  It's nice to see level-headed folks give an insightful response rather than immediately get up in arms.
 
"All Chromecast apps must be approved through Google."
Seriously this is horrible.
I was excited about ChromeCast when it was announced, but I didn't know about this validation process.
How disappointing. I will not buy one, this is too restrictive.
Hoping an open alternative will exist...
 
This is the generic shill post: "But a walled garden is better."
 
+Jeremy Martin +Jake Weisz This isn't the first closed source project from Google. Google TV was closed (besides sideload). There is no source code available. Chromecast is from the Google TV team.
 
+Derek Ross Oh, I know. Google hasn't believed in open source in earnest for years.

But your post is nothing that we haven't heard over and over from Apple fanboys for years.
 
But Derek, Google owes us something selling us a $35 device that was never advertised as being hackable. /s

Aside from potential, unfinished SDK, if someone really wanted a hackable HDMI stick, just go buy an Android on a stick device. There is no shortage of those, many with hardware more suited for hackability to begin with.
 
+Benoît Lubek $35. Say that again. $35. Let's not get crazy here thinking something that costs as much as a decent case of beer was going to do everything you've ever imagined.

Then again, you could always go buy a Raspberry Pi for $35. I hear those are open. Maybe you can get that device to do whatever you want?
 
Ahh, there they are, just a bit late.

/me waves to the blathering (entitled) geek radicals.
 
+Rob Walsh I don't feel entitled. At the cost of roughly $11, I bought it for "why not?". But it's sad to see people so willing to accept Google's new colors.
 
I would have preferred that it was more expensive (at least this first version), and that the protocol would have been open.
(Sorry my post was duplicated, G+ issues).
 
Chromecast is how Google is gaining major support of the content providers for Google TV.
 
It's only for smartphones and tablets when people want to be lazy
 
I agree, we don't need another failed Google product, like the Google TV. Bring on a few restrictions. 
 
People need to quit making excuses for Google. Everyone jumped on the midrange MotoX and made excuses for it and now people are turning a blind eye to Google locking down a product instead of unleashing its potential on the developer community. With the iPhone inspired MotoX and the locking down of devices its hard not to see the parallels with Apple. If you keep cosigning this bullshit the lines may become so blurred that one day you wake up and Google is the new Apple. 
 
+Nicholas Brickhouse Agreed. People are too willing to give Google a free pass when they get out of line. They are basically at the monopoly stage. We have to keep them honest, by making it clear when their behavior is unacceptable.
 
+Nicholas Brickhouse "With the iPhone inspired MotoX"

The Moto X was inspired by the iPhone? How so? Seeing as the Moto X's 3 main features have nothing to do with iPhone, I'm very curious.
 
Because Motorola didn't get into the spec race, so it must be an iPhone (despite the fact that people are too stupid to realize that the iPhone 5 actually wasn't "behind" the Galaxy S3 OR the Galaxy Note 2 that it came out at a similar timeframe as)...smh. You know, opposed to all the other Motorola devices that ALSO were 6 months late to the party in hardware and focused on what they're good at: optimization, antenna design, and build quality.
 
+Derek Ross Moto already said they wanted the motox to be androids iPhone by emphasizing user experience over specs and raw power. In other words we're gonna give you less and charge more for it.
 
Okay. We can talk about this on another post. No need to derail from Chromecast.
 
If they deliver on that promise, are they really giving you "less" (any company, not just Motorola) ? If a company delivers a better experience with or without specs, then the value is there.

There isn't a lot of value in investing 700 bucks to see what kind of engineering feat it took to make a Snapdragon 800 lag and stutter either.

The experience matters most. And specs can be a critical part of getting that experience, but they're no guarantee of it.
 
+Jonathan Franklin LOL! Hey, wait a second, are you busting on what Samsung most likely will be doing with the Note 3 :P
 
+Derek Ross Nah, just using the Snapdragon 800 as the current example as it's the top dog CPU right now. But somebody will bog it down, I'm sure (cough Note 3 cough)

Just the strategy of the whole "we'll just throw hardware at the problem and hope it can muscle on through it" is old. Hardware is nice to have but you shouldn't have an OS where that hardware is NEEDED to function well. Windows on desktop, for example, runs just fine on a Core i3 as well as a Core i7. The differences are noticeable, but the Core i3 doesn't have issues. On most OEM versions of Android, that is not the case. Budget hardware runs like garbage. It'd be nice if more OEMs worked on optimization AND hardware more than investing development effort in endless gimmicks.
 
There has been a lot written about the device's future and potential.  It's entertaining to read but mostly conjecture.  Google said the device would do x,y,z for $35, with the understanding it was in its infancy.  When I received the device it did x,y,z as advertised.  If I based my expectations on its potential I probably would have been disappointed.  Google can be heavy handed at times.  But I can't fault them for trying to learn from their mistakes.
 
Great article! Thanks for the info, I was going to sell it but after your article there's hope.
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