Google kills Chromecast hacking

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 26 Aug 2013

When Google announced the Chromecast, people immediately compared it to the Apple TV and realized that the two devices were more different than they were the same. With an Apple TV, you can stream whatever is on your iPad or iPhone to your television. With Chromecast, it’s a standalone media-streamer that merely uses your phone or tablet as a glorified remote control.

Nerds being nerds, they hacked and tinkered the Chromecast and discovered that it was incredibly easy to make it stream content that was stored locally. So say you have photos on your phone. You could turn your phone into a server that the Chromecast would then connect to and then render on your television. Thing is, that “security hole” has now been closed.

Koushik “Koush” Dutta, one of the guys behind CyanogenMod, and probably the most famous Chromecast hacker on the internet, took to the internet to explain why he thinks Google is trying to put roadblocks in front of the Chromecast enthusiast community:

“Google TV (yes, Chromecast is from the GoogleTV team) has a storied history of releasing closed off products, only allowing access to select partners and media companies. I was fairly certain that Chromecast would be no different. My suspicions were confirmed today.

Chromecast shipped with no default media player app, or any way to play your own content. As I demonstrated, this is actually very easy to implement. The fact that it did not ship with this by default was likely calculated. They don’t want you playing your own content.

Chromecast had a “GoogleCastSample” app that could be leveraged as a default media player. Many developers started using this. One week after release, GoogleCastSample was disabled.

What this all points to: The Chromecast is just a Google TV in a smaller form factor. Yet another box from your TV that delivers the same old tired array of big media apps that you can find on any other cable/tv box. I already have 5 of such boxes (2 Xbox, 2 Apple TV, 1 Roku).

I don’t need another box to do this. I want a mainstream, open platform, that I can connect to my TV. That would be new. That would be different.

The short version is this: Google wants to make friends with media companies, not enemies, which means limiting the ability to play back pirated AVI and MKV files. Easy as that.

Shame, but expected. Just do what I do and connect a dedicated computer to your TV.