Chris Powers on Building Apps for Chromecast

This morning at Windy City Rails, Chris Powers of Groupon stood up to speak about developing applications with Chromecast—the little device from Google that you purchased for $35 with the intent of hacking, but haven’t gotten around to yet. Chris spearheaded the development of GreenScreen.io, an open source project for Chromecast that you can use as an example if you finally get around to building that Chromecast app.

Provided you really want to do it, Chris offers some lessons from his experience with the process of developing the Chromecast platform:

Chromecast is just Chrome.

And as such, you can use it much as you use Chrome each day.

Chromecast development involves 3 components:

  • The chrome cast device that runs chrome on it (so you ca talk to a server or anything Chrome can do)
  • The server (iOS or Android or Chromecast extension)
  • Mobile Devices (iOS or Android)

And because Chromecast is just Chrome, you can exploit Chrome to develop. For example, you can use the developer tools on Chrome on your computer to figure out what is happening on the the chromecast device.

That’s not to say it’s all easy. There are some issues:

  • networking (a chromecast can get on a home network ok, but the corporate networks are more tightly nailed down. Chromecast uses abilities that corporate networks often disable). Google has good resources for troubleshooting this.
  • security: it’s kind of naive because its a user device. So it’s hackable unless its on a locked down private network. That is something you can do, but keep it in mind.
  • slow latency with your computer and the chromecast device, even on a home network. So be aware of this too.

In the end, though, we don’t hack because it’s easy: the challenges are part of the fun.

 

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