Google Kills Local Video Streaming App On Chromecast


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Google is usually pretty good about keeping its hardware open for all to tinker with. Its Nexus hardware can be customized in any way you see fit and that's not likely to ever change. As for its other hardware, it seems that Google is being a bit more heavy handed.

Koushik Dutta developed an app called AllCast that would let a Chromecast owner stream their own local content to their television. In its current form, the Chromecast can only stream content from approved video providers like Netflix or YouTube. As you can imagine, the ability to stream one's own video content would be highly desirable. What the people want and what Google wants are at odds in this case though.

Here's what Dutta had to say about it:

Koushik Dutta

AllCast Beta 4

Heads up. Google's latest Chromecast update intentionally breaks AllCast. They disabled 'video_playback' support from the ChromeCast application.

Given that this is the second time they've purposefully removed/disabled[1] 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. The Chromecast will probably not be indie developer friendly. The Google TV team will likely only whitelist media companies.

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. (LeapCast, NodeCast, etc)

Here's the apk, but please note it probably won't work.

[1] There used to be a sample app that provided similar functionality.

So, what's going on here? Google isn't exactly new to policing its own hardware as the company has banned both facial recognition and porn apps on Google Glass. Those examples make sense, however, as some consumers have legitimate concerns with those kind of apps. It doesn't make sense with AllCast as it's just a user streaming their own content.

In short, there's two possible explanations for this. One is that Google will be building the functionality into Chromecast itself and doesn't want others to do it. The second, and more likely scenario, is described by Dutta above. Google will only be approving established media partners as allowing people to stream their own content might dissuade protective media companies like HBO from providing their content on Chromecast.

It's a conflict of business interest versus user interest. I can see why Google would want to prevent people from streaming their own content via Chromecast, but doing will only make consumers move to a streaming device that lets them do what they want. The Chromecast is an exciting piece of hardware and it would be a shame if Google kept it closed shut.

[Image: Google] [h/t: The Verge]