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Google Releases Chromecast SDK; Expect a Flood of Enhanced Apps

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The Google Chromecast has gotten a lot of attention since its debut in July, 2013, but actual use has been limited. Now that Google has released the public version of the Chromecast software development kit (SDK) that could well change. Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle that plugs into a television. iOS, Android, or Chrome browser-using computers can connect to it to send supported content to televisions. If they're using a Chromecast-supported mobile app, the Chromecast itself handles the streaming, communicating directly with the home's Wi-Fi router.

At launch, only a few apps -- YouTube, Netflix, and Google Play -- were Chromecast enabled. Through the trial period a few others, such as HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Vevo, and Pandora, were added. Now that the SDK is public, any app can add Chromecast support.

Besides the SDK, Google offers user experience guidelines and a design checklist. Google insists on a few particulars for branded apps, such as uniform placement of the Cast button.

Chromecast devices in home use have been automatically updated to version 14.123, which lets them support the public SDK.

Now the real test for Chromecast begins. At $35, the device is an impulse buy, and is far cheaper than other set-top boxes. Some consumers, however, won't be comfortable using their phones for the user interface. Now that the software is in developers' hands, it will be interesting to see what they do with it. While video and audio apps should quickly join in, expect to see a range of uses, such as multiplayer games and presentation tools.

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