Google’s Chromecast has made mobile news for a lot of reasons lately. Price and performance have been the main talking points, but there’s plenty to like about the Android-powered media server from a development standpoint.
Getting your app on an Apple TV is near impossible. Outside of a few pre-installed big names like Netflix and Hulu, Apple is pretty insular with its offerings. AirPlay mirroring does enable some interaction with Apple’s set-top box, but it requires some serious tweaking.
Conversely, Google seems to be taking a different approach with Chromecast. In its current preview build, the Google Cast SDK works on a number of platforms and with a wide variety of hardware ranging from Windows laptops to iOS smart devices, giving developers a good idea of what it might offer them and their users once the SDK sees an official release.
Until that release, however, Chromecast is limited to three Google-sanctioned applications: Netflix, YouTube and Google Play. That means no official outlet for local media streaming – something the company has promised it will add in the future – and, more importantly, no direct way for developers to get their wares on users’ televisions at the moment.
Though some developers have claimed Mountain View wants to limit Chromecast video streaming to preferred partners, the accusation seems to be incorrect. As long as you’re willing to work with the SDK — and not reverse engineer to bypass certain restrictions — getting content to Chromecast should be much easier than doing the same thing with an Apple TV.
Streaming services are definitely having an impact on traditional cable sales, but the television is still an important screen in most people’s lives. With TV watchers increasingly cutting the cable cord, letting people beam content from mobile devices to the big screen is a must. And that’s where Chromecast offers an edge, officially and unofficially.
DirecTV and HBO customers are already making great use of Chromecast by streaming DIRECTV2PC and HBO Go using Chrome browser windows, and those services aren’t technically created for Chromecast. Experienced developers will be able to do even more with a little creativity.
While the competition costs $99, Chromecast only costs $35. ZDNet cites the cost as a huge motivation for consumers, calling it “dirt cheap,” and the sales tell the same story. The device was released in late July and quickly sold out. Retail giants Amazon and Best Buy have only recently restocked their inventory.
Before that, Chromecast was selling for up to $80 on eBay. Exact figures aren’t available, but Chromecast doesn’t yet have the sales numbers of its competitors, especially Apple TV. Expect that to change though as more people become aware of the device and more developers get to work on software for it.