Screen streaming your Android display to your TV has been rumored to be in the works. Co-founder of Cyanogenmod, Koushik Dutta, made the discovery looking at Google’s code snippets in Android version 4.4.1. The discovery of the new streaming code does not guarantee that Google will release the feature in the very next release, but it does suggest that it is on its way in the future.
The new Android screencasting feature will likely work in conjunction with Google’s “Chromecast,” which was once named Google TV. Chromecast is a HDMI dongle that, once inserted into a TV, allows a user to bring in streaming programming via apps such as Netflix and HBO Go, just to name a few. The dongle already does support streaming from Google’s Chrome web browser on PC’s and laptops, but steaming the screen from Android platform phones and tablets have not been supported without use of the 3rd party apps. Anybody can purchase a Chromecast dongle for their HDMI supported TV from Google Play stores for around $35.
The Chromecast dongle measures 2 inches in length and relies on a simplified version of Chrome OS, the OS that is found in Google’s Chromebook laptops. This version of Chrome OS has been designed from the ground-up to be completely cross-platform. Chromecast will work on iPhones, iPads, Macs, Windows and Chrome itself. To connect the Chromecast dongle a user just plugs in the dongle to a TV via an HDMI port. The dongle will stream audio and video to the TV and connects to the home Wi-Fi in order to connect to online sources.
Dutta and his Cyanogenmod software team have been working, without Google’s help, on their 3rd party solution for streaming Android screens to TV. However, Dutta said that Google’s limitations may be slowing down their delivery. So far, the API (application programming interface) is only available to Google themselves and the Android device’s OEM, or Original Equipment Manufacturer. Dutta went on to say that similar solutions with other hardware, such as Apple TV, cannot be built.
Android users currently don’t have to wait for rumors of screen streaming to come true. Miracast already provides the feature by using a peer-to-peer wireless screencasting to broadcast the Android displays to a TV. Their screencasting standard relies on a Wi-Fi Direct connection that is very close to the more familiar Bluetooth. Android support for screencasting was added back in 2012. Miracast is one of several manufacturers of screencasting dongles available for TV’s, some dongles are priced as low as $25.
Google has been slow with releasing the support of screen streaming Android displays to Chromecast. Apple Inc.’s iOS already allows their users to stream screens from their iPhones or iPads over their service called AirPlay, directly to an Apple TV device. Unlike the Chromecast dongle, Apple TV consists of a small box connected to the TV, and costs somewhere around the $100 mark at the Apple Store.
If Dutta’s rumor of Google preparing for steaming Android screens to the Chromecast TV dongle is true, it would put the much more economical Google platform on par with the Apple Inc.’s, Apple TV.
By Brent Matsalla