Google has released a set of free tools for developers to let their apps play video on the cheap Chromecast TV-connected device — a move that could quickly bring hundreds of new Internet video services to the TV, boosting Google’s strategy to get a foothold in the living room.
On Monday, the Internet giant released the Google Cast software development kit for developers to build and publish apps for Android and Apple iOS devices as well as websites for Chrome browsers that add the ability to “cast” video and other content to the $35 Chromecast adapter.
That’s in contrast to other broadband set-top platforms, like Apple TV and Roku, for which content owners must get approval to be listed and in some cases reach a business deal with the manufacturer. (Roku’s boxes do allow access to “private” channels, which are not published through its directory.) However, apps that are Chromecast-enabled must conform to Google’s technical guidelines and are required to comply with Google Play policies, which forbid content that is sexually explicit or violent, infringes intellectual property, or violates other terms. If the apps are out of bounds, Google reserves the right to delist them.
The Google Cast developers’ tools, which execs had promised were coming, take advantage of Chromecast’s “dumb” architecture, relying on smartphones or tablets to function as the remote control. So instead of having to create a brand-new, special purpose app for an Internet TV box, developers can simply Chromecast-enable their device to bring it to the TV.
Google launched Chromecast last July with support for Netflix and YouTube, Google Play Music and the ability to play content purchased through the Google Play store. Those were followed by Pandora, Hulu Plus and HBO Go, and last month Google added 10 more partners’ apps: Vevo, Songza, The Washington Post’s PostTV, Viki, Discovery Communications’ Revision 3, Red Bull.TV, BeyondPod, Plex, Avia and RealPlayer Cloud.
Chromecast sold out less than 24 hours after it went on sale, and Google execs admitted they underestimated demand. The company has not disclosed how many Chromecast units it has sold.