Google has reportedly launched an update to its Chromecast media streamer that signals the company's intention to heavily police what users can do with the device. As it stands now, Chromecast users can no longer stream local content to their HDTVs from a third-party app, a move believed to be no accidental side effect from the recent firmware update.
Cyanogenmod developer Koushik Dutta was reportedly working on his AirCast app for streaming local content – such as movies and TV shows stored on a hard drive – and discovered that it no longer functions after the latest Chromecast update. More specifically, Google reportedly disabled "video_playback" support from the Chromecast application.
"Given that this is the second time they've purposefully removed/disabled the ability to play media from external sources, it confirms some of my suspicions that I have had about the Chromecast developer program: The policy seems to be a heavy handed approach, where only approved content will be played through the device," Dutta reports on Google Plus. "The Chromecast will probably not be indie developer friendly. The Google TV team will likely only whitelist media companies."
The news isn't surprising given the restrictions Google has placed on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets. Both units feature USB OTG connectivity, but they only allow a mouse or a keyboard attachment – external storage devices are not supported. Because of this restriction, users cannot stream music, movies, TV shows and other video on these two tablets directly from an external hard drive or USB drive.
According to Google, the sender "may be a phone or tablet running on Android or iOS, or it may be a laptop computer running Chrome OS, Mac OS, or Windows. A sender application running on the sender device uses the Google Cast API appropriate to its operating system to discover and transmit to the receiver application running on the receiver device."
Dutta says that Google first intentionally banned playing local media from external sources in a sample app that provided similar functionality. "I'd strongly suggest holding off on buying a Chromecast until we can see how Google chooses to move forward on third party applications. There are also other (open) platforms and stacks that one could buy/support as well," he adds, noting LeapCast, NodeCast, and others.
Chromecast retails for a mere $35, and can be purchased at Best Buy (online, offline), Amazon and Google Play.