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Google Breaks ChromeCast's Ability To Play Local Content 329

Posted by timothy
from the alternatives-abound dept.
sfcrazy writes "Bad news for all ChromeCast users who were thinking of being able to stream local content to their HD TVs. Google has pushed an update for ChromeCast which has broken support for third-party apps like AirCast (AllCast) which allow users to 'stream' local files from their devices to ChromeCast connected TV sets."
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Google Breaks ChromeCast's Ability To Play Local Content

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  • Well that's that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dorfed (2860881) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @06:57PM (#44672263)
    Why am I not surprised Google?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:03PM (#44672289)

      Why am I not surprised Google?

      Because removing features from already purchased hardware seems to OK with manufacturers. If they aren't getting something extra from you using it for your own purposes then they'll take that away from you. Bless their hearts.

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Not only that, but sometimes the government REQUIRES them to do it.

        And don't forget removing content too,....

      • by aklinux (1318095) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:16PM (#44672971) Homepage
        I don't remember Google ever advertising the ability to play local content. Allcast essentially reverse engineered their own, undocumented, API. To the best of my knowledge, the device still does everything Google advertises.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Mod parent up. The headline should be "Google breaks Allcast use of Chromecast in unintended ways." It's much less remarkable when you realize that the ability to play local content was not an intended or advertised feature of the Chromecast(although it should be).

        • by tibman (623933)

          This really shouldn't have been modded troll. He brought up a good point and should be argued with, not buried.

        • That's fine; but if the comparison is going to be made to Roku or Apple TV... this is one additional item they've got checked off and Chromecast doesn't.

          Whether or not that matters to a potential buyer is the question - it certainly matters to me.

        • Re:Well that's that (Score:5, Informative)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Monday August 26, 2013 @04:01AM (#44674793) Homepage

          In other words there is no evidence they deliberately tried to break it, they just made a change to their private API that happened to interfere with it. The same thing has happened a few times to people using undocumented Google APIs, like the guy from a few years back claiming that Google deliberately broke his tracking-free search mash-up site when in fact they just retired an ancient Palm version of their homepage he was parsing.

    • by Stumbles (602007) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @08:54PM (#44672873)
      Oh man and I was just about to pull the trigger on one of those. Am I soooooo glad that did not happen, I would be pissed as hell. Guess what Google; you get zero clams from me.
    • by DragonTHC (208439)

      Because some apps have a policy whereby they won't work if a second display or HDMI is enabled. And this would get around that.

      Such as my comcast app not working if HDMI is plugged in.

      While content owners have a right to determine who has access to their content, choosing where in my home is a step too far.

  • more like (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_fat_kid (1094399) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @06:58PM (#44672265)

    bad news for Google, who was hoping that I would buy such a thing.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:00PM (#44672277)

    How wretched and nasty of Google to so suddenly turn to the dark side, and render the hardware useless.

  • Bound to happen, Google is still obliged to follow their contracts they have with the content providers. If they say they device can't do that for one reason or another then they don't have much of a choice. And we all know MPAA would NEVER EVER dare to force a content distributor in such a position. *cough*
    • Re:Bound to happen. (Score:5, Informative)

      by sd4f (1891894) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:10PM (#44672315)
      I don't know much (even after reading the article), but it seems more like as if they just want the chromecast to dish out online content so that google can keep on feeding people adds.
      • Sure, and a massive drop in sales is totally going to help them with that...
        • At $35, the business model behind this thing is probably similar to a gaming console: sell it at a loss to make customers for your lucrative content. Cutting loose the local content customers is long term a cost savings measure for two reasons: a) as you no longer need to field support calls from customers who don't watch your ads, and b) it's must easier to force software upgrades (ie, less QA needed because you can test builds in the field and force fixes out to the machines that break).

      • Whew. For a minute there, I thought they were going to start feeding people subtracts.

        Oh, wait. Maybe they just did.
  • by sootman (158191) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:10PM (#44672317) Homepage Journal

    ... and probably still will, as long as it's able to play any arbitrary content from Chrome. My idea was to drop all my media into a web-servable directory on a small server in my house and use Chrome on my laptop or phone to browse to that directory, then click the "send to chromecast" button to send it to my TV. That should still work, right? Is there anyone here who has one and is using it in that way? It's the only reason I'd get one -- I have no use at all for Yet Another Way to play hulu, netflix, youtube, etc.

    • by Namarrgon (105036) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:32PM (#44673045) Homepage

      Read Koush's actual post [google.com] - the update breaks his Cast app for Android, which works around the app whitelisting to stream directly. Nothing says anywhere that casting arbitrary content from Chrome tabs is broken.

  • by Chrontius (654879) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:26PM (#44672379)
    This leaves me still looking for a way to play arbitrary local media files on my TV; I don't terribly feel like waiting for stuff to buffer - if an online service will deign to give me a sufficiently large buffer - so I always download in advance whenever feasible.

    Don't say "an HTPC" - I don't want to run a space heater to do this. Many Android dongles I've seen are out of date or will soon be out of date, and offer lousy codec support to boot. If you've found an exception to that, be my guest - a great many of us /.ers are going to be in need of a new playback device so let's try to be productive here.
    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      I don't want to run a space heater to do this.

      Guess it depends on what you consider a space heater. I had an Acer AspireRevo 3610, and currently have a Lenovo q180. Both have Atom processors and run cool enough that they don't need fans. Both could handle any high def resolution thrown at them. The q180 is - due to recently introduced young children - is locked in a cabinet with absolutely no air flow and it isn't over heating itself.
      If you think that's still treds into "space heater" category, fine, but I don't. Some actions are obviously a bit slug

    • I've had good experiences with the Shuttle XS35GS [shuttle.com] series running XBMC on linux. Low wattage, fanless, fit easy on a shelf, and totally silent with an SSD.
    • I have a Atom with an Nvidia fanless card that will decode anything I throw at it in hardware. I tried out the Android sticks but they're woefully underpowered.

    • I have a few years old Samsung TV and it plays near anything over DLNA (stream over TCP/IP from your PC), though you have to do some searching to find the right DLNA server and setup. Serviio works best for me. Buffering at movie start may be one or two seconds but certainly not more if you're on a wired (!) connection. Over Wi-Fi it's crap, of course.

      Last year I connected Samsung Blu-Ray player which supported even more formats and worked even better (faster). Now, DLNA is about as shitty a protocol as pos

    • by nick0909 (721613)
      Rasberry Pi is as quiet and small as you can get, and BMC running on it is nice. http://www.raspbmc.com/ [raspbmc.com]
      • Agreed. There are a ton of options with any dev board if you research it a bit. HDMI has kind of become the standard output of these devices.
    • I've heard decent things about the Western Digital TV Live boxes. For people that like to play with their tech, the Pivos Xios DS can be reflashed with a factory supported XBMC load. (Still basically beta, but reasonably stable.) This is a little ARM box that comes stock running Android, that has full sized USB ports, microSD slot, ethernet/WiFi, etc. I have one of these boxes, I use it for playing local media. I also have a Roku that gets used mostly for Netflix.

      I played with a Raspberry Pi running XB

  • by ad454 (325846) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:27PM (#44672385)

    When I powered cycled my ChromeCast a couple of hours ago, I noticed that it installed a new update.

    I then launch my Chrome browser and open several local files of type MP4 (video), PDF, and PPT (powerpoint), and I am still able to successfully cast these to my ChromeCast on my HDTV, with this type of URL:

    file://{LOCAL_DIRECTORY}/{LOCAL_FILE}

    Even the MP4 video plays nice on my HDTV in FullScreen.

    I have not had time to do a packet inspection yet via WireShark, so I cannot speak about the complexity of the protocol used to transmit the content locally.

    I am not denying that something with ChromeCast might have changed, since the author is likely telling the truth, and may have been using some "hack" or trick that they used to simplify incorporating their 3rd party support.

    But considering that I have my Chrome browser at version 29.0.1547.57 which was not updated in the last 5 days, I would think that any 3rd party app could still be modified to support ChromeCast with the same protocol used by the Chrome browser, NetFlix, YouTube, etc.

  • Corporations grow up, just like children.

    If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 40, you have no brain.

    This much-laundered sentiment originated with Francois Guisot (and not as widely believed the sock-prophet Winston Churchill). The genius of Bill Gates was being twenty years ahead of his time. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of a brainy conservative is twenty to thirty years (tops), before the grizzled Ebenezer-in-Chief is forcibly de

    • by epine (68316)

      That came off slightly more cynical than I intended. In truth, I have nothing but gratitude for much of what hippie Google chose to do. My point at this juncture, however, is that that was then, this is now.

      In much the same way that the terrorists succeeded in reshaping America in their own image (two crushed fingers was all it took), Facebook has succeeded in reinventing Google in their own image. Zuck, like Bill, was way ahead of his time right from the get go.

      As far as I'm concerned Google+ is hardly

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 25, 2013 @07:30PM (#44672407)

    My raspberry pi and Ouya still play any arbitrary content I throw at them. Take that, Google.

  • by BenJeremy (181303) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @08:10PM (#44672623)

    I still wonder why people go through all the fuss over media players... Samsung, LG and others have TVs and Blu-Ray players that are capable of playing MKV files and such from local drives or streamed from DLNA, and the players can be had for less than $50 when you catch the right sales. As a bonus, you also can play DVDs, BDs and optical discs full of loose media files.

    On the negative side, I don't get a lot of fancy presentation, and I don't have emulators and such running on it, but that's fine. I never really understood the excitement over Roku boxes - I also get plenty of online streaming services through my Blu-ray players and TV (I have one "smart" TV, but the rest in the house have the aforementioned Blu-Ray players).

    For anything beyond that, I'll build an HTPC so I can also leverage my Steam library (not too excited about the next gen consoles, either).

    • I have found that who ever designed DNLA was a complete idiot. Some people prefer having the option of smb,nfs,afp. Plus decoding options. Having to reencode a bunch of video files just sucks. Of course its all about the right device for the right situation or person.
  • Not surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @08:28PM (#44672711) Homepage Journal

    Is this a surprise to anyone? Did anyone really think that once Google had control of hardware and software they'd eventually get around to limiting you to content purchased through them (or one of their partners)?

    Don't buy a Chromecast if you want to view media you own or have made yourself. There are other similar devices that will let you do what you want to do.

    The only thing that can keep a corporation from becoming totally evil is the consumers. The boardroom is an incubator for evil. If you want to keep a company from doing bad, you have to be a strategic consumer.

  • China version (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @08:39PM (#44672797) Homepage Journal

    I have never had a Chinese product magically lose features after i bought it. Its pretty sad, and ironic, when you have to go to Communist china to get products that support your freedom..

  • There seems to be a lot of raking Google over the coals ... but the only thing we have here is a single report, approved to the slashdot front page by timothy.

    At this point, since not a single person has confirmed it on here, I'm inclined to believe there is no such breakage and this is just another example of timothy approving something stupid that he shouldn't be allowed to even read, let alone approve.

  • ctrl+o (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:08PM (#44672947) Journal
    Right now, Im playing an .mp4 located on my NAS, opened from my mac and streaming to my Chromecast via Chrome tab. So what did this break?
  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:13PM (#44672963)
    The only reason for buying a ChromeCast
    • by Namarrgon (105036)

      Why, were you planning to use only Koush's Cast app? There are other ways to stream local content which still work fine, like tab casting from Chrome.

  • by vilain (127070) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:27PM (#44673029)
    While it was $99, it can play movies from a USB stick OR a NAS. Plus stream from my Netflix and AmazonPrime accounts. Not all that interested in the 100 other streaming services they offer. I bought it because I could plug in a USB stick and watch whatever. They added the NAS feature recently.
  • by Nimey (114278) on Sunday August 25, 2013 @09:34PM (#44673055) Homepage Journal

    but instead of the boringly predictable GOOGLE IS EVIL!!!!1eleventy karma-whoring[1], shall we examine why exactly this third-party program broke with the new update?

    Were they, perchance, using an undocumented API, or one that was known to be unstable?

    This seems to be the public API for Chromecast: https://developers.google.com/cast/devprev [google.com]
    but I'm not enough of a programmer to tell if there's explicit support for the kind of thing AirCast does; however, get a load of this:

    Warning: The current Google Cast SDK is a preview SDK intended for development and testing purposes only, not for production apps. Google may change this SDK significantly prior to the official release of the Google Cast SDK. We strongly recommend that you do not publicly distribute any application using this preview SDK, as this preview SDK will no longer be supported after the official SDK is released (which will cause applications based only on the preview SDK to break).

    Applications using this preview SDK will work only on Chromecast receiver devices that are whitelisted for development. Google will provide whitelisting for Google Cast receivers for development and testing purposes until the final SDK is released. See Whitelisting your receiver.

    So it seems my guess was correct and you're all bellyaching about a program taking advantage of an unstable API, with a feature not guaranteed to be there, and when the documentation recommends not distributing production apps yet.

    In short, non-story click-whoring. I hope you're proud of yourselves.

    [1] I know I'll get modded down for this, but...

    • by tlambert (566799) on Monday August 26, 2013 @01:28AM (#44674285)

      >

      So it seems my guess was correct and you're all bellyaching about a program taking advantage of an unstable API, with a feature not guaranteed to be there, and when the documentation recommends not distributing production apps yet.

      I checked out the SDK link you provided. The iOS and Android sender examples were last updated July 30th. The breakage occurred post-July 30th, so the documentation should have been updated with working examples, or the references to using the SDK to create 3rd party senders should have been removed.

      As I was in the Chrome OS group at Google, and not the Google TV group that is responsible for ChromeCast, I have no idea how frequently that group updates their developer documentation. However, if it's anything like the Chrome OS group, other than design documents, the documentation tends to stay rather out of date for Chrome OS, since there are no technical writers specifically tasked with updating documentation.

      So it could be a bug or an intentional API change (for which the documentation is now out of date) that caused the breakage. However, since the breakage has been pretty localized as to where it occurred, it's unlikely to be supported via an alternate API, which implies intentionality, since releases are tested internally before going out to production systems.

  • An upgrade is not always an upgrade.

  • by El Rey (61125)

    This [github.com] solution bypasses Google's Chromecast SDK entirely.

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