25
Jun
cs

Chromecast might not be the most dramatic of Google's products on stage at I/O 2014, but it's getting just as much love. Rishi Chandra, product manager for Chromecast, demonstrated a lot of new features in his presentation. The low-cost streaming device will get newer and more advanced capabilities soon, including the ability to stream the screen contents of your phone or tablet directly to the television. We've seen this done with various third-party hacks, not to mention a peek or two on some people's active devices.

Cast1

The demonstration during the keynote was impressive: after casting the phone screen to the television, the video was smooth and effective, though you could see a tiny bit of lag. In portrait mode it was shown with large black areas to either side, but a quick rotation to full-screen landscape mode was seamless. Chandra showed off the mobile version of Google Earth (with some taxing 3D animation) as well as the phone's camera being mirrored on the screen. Hopefully this means that the wireless latency will be low enough to allow for Android games to be played while mirroring.

Cast2

Unfortunately, this probably won't be a universal experience. The Google demonstrator said that mirroring would be released in beta via a Google Play Services update in the next few weeks, and that devices from "HTC, Samsung, and LG, and Nexus" would be compatible. That would seem to imply that not all phones and tablets will be compatible.

Chromecast will soon allow you to cast from phones and tablets that aren't on the same WiFi network as the Chromecast hardware itself. Chandra demonstrated a phone on a standard LTE network casting to a friend's television based solely on proximity, presumably determined by either 3G or Wifi location. He also said that PIN security and verification could be displayed on the screen.

Backdrop2

Lastly, the photos displayed when Chromecast is not actively streaming are going to get a substantial update. The Chromecast app for Android will soon allow you to choose between categories of photos, as well as allowing you to display photos from one or more of your personal Google+ galleries. (Sorry, it looks like there's no option for local storage - a full-time connection is required.) You can also see interesting information about the current photo, such as a satellite image or a famous painting, with the Google Now command "what's on my Chromecast." Keep in mind, running this photo mode 24/7, as recommended during the presentation, will almost certainly be incredibly expensive from an electricity standpoint.

Backdrop

Expect these changes to hit the Chromecast app and Google Play Services, in addition to an over-the-air update for Chromecast itself, in the next few weeks. Some features may still be in beta.

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • http://www.about.me/kendallseabury Kendall Seabury

    Koush is going to be PISSED.

    • Frederico Silva
    • Arnold

      Who cares?

    • HolyFreakingCrap

      Why, cause he will lose money from AllCast?

    • whispy_snippet

      I had so many problems with All Cast I uninstalled it - and I use a stock Nexus 5 and 2013 Nexus 7 on a very capable and reliable home network.

      • Alexei Watson

        Me too. UI was great, but it really behaved like a pre-beta for me. Using the trial.

    • Aaron Ellis

      You really think Google made chromecast without this in mind? Koush is a developer that saw a need and filled it, but I'm sure Google had intended to release that update all along.

  • mgamerz

    I was hoping they'd announce a Chromecast+ that had 5Ghz. 2.4Ghz is abysmal in my apartment complex.

    • Taylor Abrahamson

      Same here :(

    • Pierre Gardin

      and 1080p

      • bpear96

        Chromecast plays back video in 1080p. The homescreen is in 720p however. Dedicated video decoders allow that.

    • Karl Dagenais

      Its exactly what AndroidTV will allow.

      • mgamerz

        AndroidTV is a platform, not a device.

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

          with built in Chromecast support - ie ANY device marketed as Android TV, be it TV, Set Top Box, Media Streamer - will be able to behave EXACTLY the same as a Chromecast does.

          • Alexei Watson

            Plus features and price that removes it from comparison with the chromecast.

  • Guest

    Mirror feature will be just update for chromecast or new version?
    When this update will be

    • joser116

      It will only work with certain devices.

      • Simon Belmont

        Yup. It will work with a couple devices at first.

        Wider distribution to a more wide range of devices will happen later, which isn't that uncommon when testing a new feature. No surprise to me.

    • Onitsoga

      They will make it work via Google Play Services

  • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

    Why doesn't screen mirroring get any love for laptops / PCs?

    • mustbepbs

      Not sure what you mean? Just plug an HDMI cord from your laptop/PC to your TV. Boom, screen mirroring.

      Not only that, but Chromecast supports Chrome mirroring for PCs, which Android does not.

      • cesium

        The point of the chromecast is to get rid of wires, so your point of using hdmi is pointless. What I presume he is talking about is desktop mirroring, which is something I too would like to see.

        • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

          I meant mirroring phone's screen on laptop. Screencasting. There are apps available for that but they perform very poorly.

          • campusten

            That's why I'm guessing they're holding back on PC support...the performance isn't there in their tests. The Chromecast may simply not be fast enough to support it.

        • paul drozd

          Already available on chrome browser via chromecast

    • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

      Thats been here for awhile...You do it via Chrome...

      • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=iWizard Bikram Agarwal

        Phone to PC mirroring, without third party app? Please, do tell.

        • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

          No PC to Chromecast....
          There are much better options for what you want...Look into Splashtop.
          Not only can it mirror the screen you can actually control the mouse and work the computer!

    • sloosh

      well but it was already possible (and much more) using Screen Stream app.
      try it you will see it can mirror android screen to media players, web browsers, and chromecast ;)

  • Eternith

    Wondering how that WiFi network thing works now. Can I setup a WiFi hotspot on my phone and let chromecast connect to that while I stream content from phone to supposidely any HDMI output source I plug into?

    • mgamerz

      They are both on the same wifinnetwork and go through that.

    • guest

      No, this doesn't work (tried it, this is also how I initially expected it to be). You have to have a 3rd device, like a tablet or someone else's phone. The phone isn't able to broadcast over the same wifi network it's creating.

      • Eternith

        But with the new change, what if I use my LTE connection to stream to the network instead? (Assuming unlimited data plan for the high bandwidth usage)

      • paul drozd

        You will be able to shortly one the protocol had been updated ota on all chromecast to allow casting via the net instead of LAN a out is only allowed now

  • Paddy O’Reilly

    Chromecasting from the device probably depends on Miracast support

    • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

      Nope but it does require 4.4.3+ (which also has Miracast) of Android.

    • paul drozd

      Miracast relies on Widi wifi direct protocols, but the chromecast works on htlm5 protocols url casting from any compatible device to the chromecast.

  • Ciencianf

    If my moto X doesn't get on this in going to be pissed.

  • Thomas Cai Jinzhan

    Very cool...now rollout the updated chromecast hardware with 5Ghz & 802.11ac support....!

    • Thomas’

      A software patch to add 5Ghz and AC support? Yeah, that's like the iOS7 upgrade bringing waterproofness.

      • Thomas Cai Jinzhan

        you obviously missed the words 'updated chromecast HARDWARE'...

  • Brad Andrews

    Oh wow, I didn't even realize that the 'cast screen' feature was an unreleased beta. I've been using it to cast the 'foxtel play' (a pay TV streaming app here is AUS) to my TV for a few weeks now. Works beautifully.

  • Guest

    Is this going to be a new device or will it just be a software upgrade? Sorry for the stupid question.

    • https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5oCUR11M24mekZubnc4ZUFCUU0/edit?usp=sharing Metsie

      Software update....
      Mirroring is already working but not whitelisted...You need a Rooted CCast running Eureka Rom to use it now....So far seems limited to those units running 4.4.3+

  • Paul Weiss

    I just bought a Chromecast today because of the screen mirroring addition. Great job Google.

  • Jerry Gooch

    It seems disabled. My Nexus 5 on the L preview sees my chromecast but fails to connect when I try to cast. I guess the chromecast will get an update over the next few weeks as well.

  • pat

    kendall the best form of flattery is being copied ... if your the best at what you do .. everyone else wants in on your skills