Chromecast is already Google’s best-selling product. Now it looks like the Chromecast itself is about to get even best-ier.
On Monday, Google announced that it had opened Chromecast’s software development to the public, meaning that the small streaming device could be receiving many more apps shortly.
Google’s pocket-sized smart TV dongle plugs into any HDMI port on the back of your television and allows you to wirelessly send video and audio from your computer, smartphone or tablet to your big screen. It launched last year for $35 and supported streaming from the Chrome desktop browser, as well as a select few partnered apps.
The lineup of Android and iOS apps that already offer the “casting” of media to Chromecast features a lot of the typical smart TV players: HBO GO, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, VEVO, and so on. These companies were granted special access to work with Google to craft apps for the Chromecast’s launch last year.
Now that Google has gone public with the device’s SDK (software development kit), however, app makers and companies around the world, no matter their size or relationship with Google, are free to add Chromecast support to their own apps — or even to build brand-new apps especially for the Chromecast.
At the time of this writing, Chromecast had fewer than 20 apps.
Opening software development tools to the public is typically a good practice for growth. Apple’s iOS and Mac OS, Google’s Android, and Microsoft’s Windows all release public SDKs with each new operating system update so that developers were free (and encouraged) to create apps for their platforms. In the realm of smart-TV devices, Roku, an affordable smart-TV device line Google is competitively targeting, has offered free access to its SDK for some time. Its ecosystem of apps (or channels) is currently sitting at over 1,000.
Chromecast is Google’s second swing at a smart-TV platform. The more expensive and ill-fated Google TV line of devices was built on a special version of Android and even shared compatibility with many Android smartphone and tablet apps. Still, with the least-expensive device priced at around $100, excitement for Google TV waned shortly after its 2010 launch.
This new bounty of apps that are sure to launch for Chromecast, coupled with its already low price of $35 (Roku’s least expensive device is $50, and the Apple TV costs $99) make Google’s newest foray into the living room seem like a more economical bet. Now we’ll see what cast of new apps Google can assemble with this new ploy.