Google's Chromecast can be a handy little media-streaming gadget, but its functionality is currently limited to only a handful of channels. That could change soon, as Google has released the Chromecast software development kit (SDK) to the general public. Any company with an Internet channel and some technical know-how can now cast its hat into the streaming-content ring.
Developers can download the Google Cast SDK from the Google Developers website. The kit allows users to implement Chromecast functionality in their programs, whether they run on Chrome OS, Mac OS, Windows, Android or iOS.
Although the kit offers fairly flexible tools, each program has the same end goal: Get the content from your computer or mobile screen to broadcast onto your TV via Chromecast. This is most useful for streaming video and music services: Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora already have Google Chromecast channels, and so do 11 other apps.
Freely distributing developer tools represents an enormous departure from what had been Google's Chromecast strategy up to this point. Until it released the SDK, Google worked closely and personally with a very small number of developers.
Google will still have final say over which programs make their way into the Chromecast's app selection, so don't expect the selection to explode overnight. That said, now that enthusiasts have access to the SDK, expect them to soon figure out how to "root" the Chromecast to make way for unauthorized third-party apps.
At the time of writing, Google had not yet indicated when the Chromecast's next wave of apps would surface. As long as the company puts out a user-friendly SDK, though, expect Chromecast's 14 apps to have lots of company within the next few months.