Lunch with the Chromecast Team
There's really nothing to report, so I didn't really want to write this post, but people keep pestering me about it.
The lunch with the Chromecast team went as expected. I met with two engineers from the Chromecast WebSDK team and the developer relations. They were all happy that I had been building stuff on top of their platform. As engineers, we love it when other engineers play with the toys we create.
They were curious what I thought about the SDK, as it all came together at the buzzer right before launch. They asked whether I had more ideas for it, and were curious how I had accomplished certain things (like the HTTP server in Chrome). We shared what our "wow" moments when using the Chromecast.
They claimed that the reason for the whitelist was so that they can provide a positive user experience as the SDK changes and matures. I pointed out that Google has released beta SDKs for Android and Chrome, without a whitelist, and both of those products have grown to have billions of users. I voiced my skepticism, given that this behavior is more consistent with the Google TV program, which has been invite-only to date.
They later went on to say that they wanted to remove the whitelist, and have a "lightweight approval process" for Chromecast apps (which sounds awful lot like a whitelist). I chuckled as it seemed a bit contradictory, but didn't push further. No real timeline given on when anything would change, besides a "few months".
Most of my pointed questions were understandably met with "we can't answer that". I joked about which manufacturers they are partnering with to ship Chromecast enabled TVs in Q4; no comment.
The general sentiment from the three engineers is essentially what was reflected in the statement to 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."
Really read that. That's not a commitment of any sort. And it doesn't alleviate my concerns about who would be able to build that. Google, a Google partner, or any indie developer?
Of course, as engineers, we would like to have as many people using our stuff as possible. And I would like a pony for my birthday tomorrow. But engineers do not drive business decisions. And I completely understand why Chromecast would not be an open platform, and that Google needs to posture in such a way to grant themselves the maximum flexibility in the future.
I don't want this post to read as if there was any animosity- there isn't. I had a great time while there, and was taken on a tour of Google Fremont. The conversation spanned several topics (outside the whitelist issue), and it was basically just a bunch of software engineers hanging out.