27
Mar
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Last Updated: July 9th, 2014

The Chromecast is slowly worming its way into every part of the Google ecosystem, but there is at least one aspect you weren't supposed to see yet. There is incomplete screen casting support built into KitKat, but it has been surfacing in very odd ways for the last few months. Rest assured, you are not alone in spotting it. Update 7/9/14: It's live now

22 (2)

We tend to get a tip about this almost daily, but there's very little to report until Google actually implements the functionality. We appreciate every tip we get (seriously), thought we don't have much more information than you on this one. The Cast Screen tile seems to pop up for users of Nexus and newer Motorola devices when certain Chromecast apps have been used, for example AllCast. It's triggering something in Android related to an incomplete casting feature – that's all we can say for sure.

No one has, to our knowledge, gotten this native screen casting feature to work on a stock device – it just crashes when trying to connect to a Chromecast. It may also plug into Miracast right now, but there is something more going on. There are some third-party apps that aim to do the same thing, but having the built-in ability would be ideal. Presumably Google will fix this and expose it to users eventually, but right now all you're seeing is a stub of a future feature.

[Thanks to the many people who sent this in, and Scott for the screen]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Umberto Sonnino

    I still wish they'd made the quick settings customizable as in any custom rom

    • Sean Lumly

      Add to that the notification bar, the recent-apps page, and the navigation bar as well. If these were as easily replaceable as a custom launcher, it would provide a very modular and flexible OS interface.

      • Dennis Ulijn

        Yes, this! Notification bar, recent-apps, navigation and lockscreen are, at this point, not as open as the rest of the software, except for the secure parts that you want closed. There are solutions, but for notifications and the lockscreen they need to do what they've done to the launcher in Kitkat: a toggle in settings.

    • Michael

      In addition to customization, I wish there was a Quick Settings API that apps could access, but requiring explicit approval (something like the 4.3 notification API, where it has to be manually enabled; not just a permission for it). This way apps that run in the background could also provide quick access so we don't have to go to the app to toggle the setting.

      • Umberto Sonnino

        I agree, but I don't think that it's going to be available any time soon for security reasons

    • Jason Rittenhouse

      if you're rooted (or willing to root), install xposed framework and the gravity box module. it brings just about every custom rom feature to stock android, including tons of customization options for the quick settings.

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        But you still gotta modify your device for all of that, including rooting, even if you are not flashing anything. What Umberto was talking about is NATIVE function that comes out of the box, without any frameworks or modules required. Simple as that.

        • Jason Rittenhouse

          Yeah, I get that. I was offering another option (something in between stock settings and installing a custom rom). If you sit around and wait for Google, you'll be disappointed.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            Well maybe it is not so hopeless after all? I mean, Google surely understand the value of the flexibility of the system, hence why it tolerates the ROM maker scene by allowing you to unlock the boot loader without any hassle. Though I guess if we had such functionality in stock roms - it could potentionally hurt customs, for example I haven't been on any on either of my devices since HTC Desire S days which I sold 7 months ago

          • Jason Rittenhouse

            we've been waiting for basic customization options from google for years (like homescreen grid size) and it's never happened. I think they're happy with letting rom devs do the work for them to preserve a simpler experience for the average user. i'm not complaining as i like trying out the different roms, etc on xda (and all the new stuff out there for xposed is amazing) but there's no point in holding out for google.

          • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

            I maybe too naive, but I feel there is a point for Google.

            Let's take a look at Apple. With each major and minor release, Apple has been slowly implementing different tweaks that were available to Jailbroken users into iOS because it wanted to if not kill, at least halt the development for jailbreak, because main reason for JB was piracy due to the whole iTunes/iOS security with app installing, which means that the implementation of such things as quick toggles panel that appeared in 7.0.x was intentional, and it goes on slowly but steadily. Even some JB devs are now working for Apple.

            But!

            IMO Google hasn't implemented such features earlier because the framework probably didn't have the capability that it got with 4.0 and all the following releases, which was a major overhaul of the system. Now Google doesn't do that because of how big the development scene is today, and by implementing all the essential stuff like home screen, app drawer, navbar, statusbar and quick settings/notifications customization - Google would've made Custom ROMs much less appealing for average users and even for some power users. Google didn't allow the simple one-command-unlock for bootloaders for nothing, and probably respects and adores all the stuff that XDA devs can do with the OS, and killing it would only do harm to it, which nobody would've liked. Heck, CyanogenMod grew from a simple custom ROM to a whole company! And all thanks to the freedom and flexibility of Android.
            I gues this is the biggest reason, despite the demand for it

          • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

            Manly tears falling right now.

          • Jeremy Martin

            Google understands the value of flexibility but the carriers fear flexibility.

      • Christoforos Panos

        losing ART is a nogo.

        • Jason Rittenhouse

          oh yeah, if you rely on that then you must wait until sometime after art is official and xposed works with it. i'm on a nexus 4 and art didn't really make any difference so i don't miss it.

    • Matthew

      If you are rooted, download Xposed Installer and download Gravity Box. Allows customization of the tiles.

    • guesus

      Customizable quick settings and quick settings pull down on right hand side is 90% of what I use a custom ROM for.

      (Yeah yeah, gravity box, but if I'm going to alter the ROM I might as well go all the way with a custom one.)

      • Dennis Ulijn

        Tried the right side for quick toggles, but found it not so useful. Sometimes i wanted to see my notifications, but because of my thumb placement I accidentally swiped the right side. Keeping it one finger for notifications, 2 for quick toggles is the best way to keep the android experience consistent across devices, and that is exactly what Google needs at the moment. No more people staying with Samsung because they know the device. A general thought that Android is Android is Android is what is needed.

        • http://mwinter.in/ Yan Gabriel Minário

          Please tell me, good sir, how the fuck would I pull down using 2 fingers while using the device with only one hand?

  • brnpttmn

    I have Allcast installed on my Nexus 7 and I have been seeing this intermittently. I was wondering about it, so thanks for the heads-up.

  • skitchbeatz

    I thought that this was just the replacement icon of miracast?

    • ranf

      Yes it is.
      Long press that tile and you get the miracast settings page.

    • Daniel Higgins

      You are correct, it is. To Ryan and everyone else expressing views of a bug or something broken with this release, THIS IS NOT NEW. It was previously branded as 'Wireless Display' before the update to 4.4 and I have been using it with my miracast mirroring device (a netgear PTV3000) before and after the change - for months now. This rebranding change has come about to unify the nomenclature of "casting" in all its varying forms (miracast or otherwise) and compatible devices (not just the chromecast).

      • skitchbeatz

        *Not New

        • Daniel Higgins

          thanks, edited

      • Hooterman

        While you may be partly right, I don't think you're completely right. While one of my TV's does support WiDi mirroring, my others don't. When I push this new button it displays a list of all my Chromecasts on the network, not the Miracast server.

  • Nideda24

    I've seen this after installing Koush's Mirror app. I'm pretty sure it writes the setting to the system partition, so even if you delete the app, the quick setting icon occasionally reappears.

    • Daniel Smith

      I've never had Mirror installed, but it still seems to pop up for me.

    • jjrudey

      I had this show up while I had Mirror installed but I didn't like it so I removed Mirror and it hasn't showed up since.

  • Blane Stroud

    I'm hoping we get really big Chromecast news at I/O this year. I'm actually way more excited to hear about Chromecast 2.0 or new software or anything about that than I am about Android versions.

  • Daniel Smith

    I thought I was seeing things, thank you AP.

  • Michael

    Is this something that only shows up on Nexus/Motorola official builds, or does it show up on AOSP-based ROMs as well? I have never seen it, but I don't have a Chromecast. If it were in AOSP Iit should be easy to follow the code to the trigger.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/psychomaniac189 psychomaniac189

      i am running CyanogenMod 11 nightly builds on my HTC One and I've seen this.

  • serzhanja

    it appears in quick settings when Enable wireless display under Display settings is ticked and you're on a network with a cast receiver

    • Luke Applegate

      I just went into Settings>Display & Lights and found "Cast screen, not sure how I missed it before. Running CM11 on a Note 2.

      • duck hairs

        Yeah that's been there since the start of kitkat

      • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

        It also comes in stock 4.4.x for Nexi and probably Moto G and X. Not sure about other devices with 4.4 Roms

  • Steven Libretti

    i have Mirror installed with CM11 M4 on my vs980 and i get the cast screen tile

  • Mathias Kenting

    I've only seen it when I'm using Pocketcast.

  • flavioosh

    I can use the cast screen to mirror my screen over to my Sony TV. It always appears when I'm on my home network.

    • thewafflehouse

      That's because it is using Miracast likely

      • flavioosh

        It is, yeah.

        • thewafflehouse

          Yea, I've seen it pop up on networks without any Miracast devices. Both on a device with "Mirror" installed, and on devices without. Only on the N5 though. This is based off of networks with no miracast and only a Chromecast as far as I know.

  • Cole

    It appears for me when uI install the mirror beta app from clockworkmod. I thought that was a part of the app, lol.

  • Eduardo Mateos

    Well, this has not been so strange for me... I use that button usually, when I want to connect with my Samsung Smart TV. I just put the TV in mirroring mode, press that button and mirror the screen.

    I've done it with both my Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 and it works perfectly.

    So this is not only for ChromeCast, but also for Miracast

    • Mike Hussion

      I think it is (or at least WAS) primarily for Miracast. It existed prior to the Chromecast even being announced, and it even had the Google Cast logo (which prefaced the Chromecast as a device.)

    • Magneira

      maybe in a future update we will be able to mirror the screen, just like you do using miracast on any tv with miracast suport. Maybe chromecast will get this, and the creator of allcast is already working on this, so its possible to do.

    • Jordan Long

      what model (and year?) TV. Thanks.

      • Eduardo Mateos

        Samsung F6890

  • Simon Belmont

    I thought that this was for Miracast (it used to be called Wireless Display prior to KitKat). I mean, don't get me wrong, I really want this to be compatible with my Chromecast, too, because I don't have a Miracast enabled TV.

    It's funny that they use the cast icon for Miracast when it's really only been associated with Chromecast so far, so maybe this means it will become a catch-all. You know, Miracast and Chromecast screen casting in one button depending on what method you have.

  • Owen Finn

    If Android adds the "Cast Screen" functionality in natively, I will upgrade both my phone and my tablet to get it. It is that vital to me.

    • Simon Belmont

      I agree. I have been wanting this to be baked into Android for some time (pretty much ever since I got my Chromecast).

      Tons of things that I'd use it for. Hopefully Google I/O will let us know.

    • smantha

      Android has had support for screen casting via miracast for months now. You just need a miracast capable TV or a miracast dongle for anything that uses HDMI.

  • Noobs

    This icon is used for miracast and Wi-Fi direct. Not sure it has something to do with chromecast.

    • Hooterman

      This button/icon may also be used for Miracast, but there's something else going on here. When I push the button it then shows me my list of Chromecasts on the network, not Miracast servers.

      • Simon Belmont

        I think Google is probably preparing it to work with both Miracast and Chromecast. It will be basically be a dual-purpose button (which would explain why you see your Chromecasts when you interact with it).

        My guess is we'll find out in a couple months at Google I/O. I'm just hoping that screen casting to Chromecast is being baked into the OS finally.

        • Francois Roy

          My guess is that it cannot use anything else other the same VP8 hardware transcoder as Koush's Mirror app; which is present only in the Nexus 5 so far.
          Don't hold your breath if you have any other phone.

      • The Motto

        No so sure.. I have no Chromecast showing up on my Nexus 5.. have heard some rumors that a Chromecast will show up if you have AllCast installed.. haven't verified it though.. have no need for AllCast..

  • Jason Rittenhouse

    sort of related: gravity box (xposed framework mod) has a media play/pause tile that you can put in quick settings and it works with chromecast as well. it doesn't cast your screen, but it's an alternative way to play or pause chromecasted media.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    I can't believe I never actually noticed this button while mirroring to my Smart TV

  • OldDogeyes
  • CoffeeZombie

    So I wasn't crazy, after all!!! I *knew* I saw it at some point, but when I tried to show my wife later, it was gone!

  • The Motto

    Its not a "incomplete casting feature".. Its screen mirroring for Miracast.. it show up when your WiFi is activated and you have enabled settings -> display -> cast screen.. works on Nexus 5 with a Sony Bravia Miracast enabled tv..

  • Philip Leaper

    Not seeing it in the UK, I feel left out. :-(

  • Waleed Al Suwaimel

    Ryan,
    This happens when the AllCast app does when it does after it's granted root access. It's not an unpredictable OS behavior. Gotta be Koush's hack for display mirroring.

    • Hooterman

      I used to have AllCast installed but my phone isn't/wasn't rooted, and I still have the button.

  • disqus_7zCKYC2BSD

    i saw that on my nexus7 the other day. pressed and it said no devices were found.

  • Leonardo Benveniste

    I have a nexus 4 and I get that tile as soon as I'm home connected to the chromecast, without running any apps. I had that tile for at least a month

  • Jordan Pt

    The tile is up for me 24/7 after I installed the Mirror beta. Don't have a Chromecast to try it with, but Mirror is working fine with my PC browser. -Nexus 5

  • RaviShah

    This shows up for me when I have koush's Mirror app installed

    • ThomasMoneyhon

      DING DING!!! Winner here. Had it after, not before installing Mirror.

      • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

        I have - it will usually appear after using AllCast - and it happens because AllCast queries the MediaRouter API so Android gathers a list of compatible devices for AllCast.

  • Mantonio016

    That is not A mystery. If you have a tv whit miracast... You have to go to: setting / screen / screen cast / (options) enable screen cast...... And when you have the wifi on and the miracast enable on your tv... And the bouts are connected at the same wifi network the button appears.

  • hp420

    So no one has done a logcat yet to figure out what is triggering it, or why it's crashing?

  • James Alexander

    .... I use this all the time with Koush's Mirror app....

  • Pankaja Withanachchi

    Stock 4.4 Kitkat on nexus 5
    Had it since December last year
    Works well with LG Smart TVs
    Just Saying

  • Jays2Kings

    When Koush's mirror app came out, the icon showed up on my stock rom, and it allowed me to record my screen and stream it to the web. I no longer have the app, but I first saw this out in the wild when I used the chrome beta html5 casting.

  • Joey Wilson

    Isn't this the cast icon from the 'Mirror' app by Koush? Its baked in to CM, and available in beta for some nexus devices.

  • https://steamcommunity.com/id/m-p-3 m-p{3}

    If only we could do screen mirroring to a Chromecast (well at least with my Nexus 4) :(

  • kindrudekid

    Is this suppose to be new?

    I though it happened since the launch of KK. It was always there on my Nexus 5 whenever I'm on my home network which has a miracst capable TV?

  • bobEveryman

    I'd just like it to be a convenient one-stop-shop to redirect all of my media apps at once. Being able to go between youtube / netflix / etc. and have everything default to where I want it to "cast" to would be nice.

  • Philip Kahn

    It's Miracast. It shows up the first time you connect with tha protocol, and then that button connects to your Miracast device. It doesn't actually do the Chromecast, though.

    Source: I have both at home.

  • NK

    Mine Popped Up RIght After I Installed Mirror Cast.... So Not Sure If That Is The Culprit Or Just Coincidental

  • keizertwisk

    It worked for me, once. After that i couldnt find thr tile anymore. Im using a 1+1