Google kills Chromecast hacking

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.

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  • Zahid Ghadialy

    Yup, I have had a small cheap acer net-top connected to my TV via HDMI for ages and I just didnt bother with any of the other devices at all. Sounds like I made a good decision.

  • Gary Deezy

    Sorry, but did no one else see this coming? Google doesn’t make any money if they can’t control the ads and/or sell you the content. I love the idea of an open platform, but they are a business after all…

  • John Buchmann

    I just hope that 3rd party apps will be allowed to play with Chromecast. For example, i’d like to watch podcasts on my tv with Chromcast from the “Pocket Casts” android app. Last I heard is the team got it working, but they’re waiting on Google to open up a bit and allow the app in.

  • i6ix

    This is why I like airplaying my macbook pro or iphone to my apple tv. It’s easy, it works pretty well, the apple tv was only 100 bux, and it just works. I can mirror most anything over, and most of my ios wielding friends can come over and do the same.

  • Skyfox

    Buy a WDTV! Costs under $100 and plays everything.

  • http://slyck.com/ zbeast

    that’s such a shame…I got the Comcast to do just that..
    A cheap way to connect my pc’s to my tv’s for local content streaming.

    no big.. it was just $35 bucks.. I’ll just toss it in my box of no longer useful tech.
    And continue using more more expensive HTPC’s.

  • Jane Archer

    “Pirated”? What kind of filthy USSR flavoured snide comment is that? It was the USSR that tried in its darkest days to prohibit all user created content, and ensure things like typewriters had to be registered with the State security services. If this story is true (and people have a dreadful habit of jumping to the wrong conclusions with anything Android related), it marks a disgusting and unacceptable attack on users being able to create and view their own content.

    For this reason alone, I see the story as FALSE. Closing an unsupported API hole is NOT the same as banning a certain form of activity. Even if Chromecast played only DRM protected files, there would be nothing to stop Google allowing users to generate their own DRM keys so user content could be made complaint too. However, the road followed in practise is strong DRM for commercial streams, and an ordinary non-DRM path for other content. Google hardly wants to DRM all its Youtube videos, for instance.

    If the story is true, Chromecast becomes a ‘cable box’ working with vendor specific streams only. If thisis true, Google had better be selling the product as such, with explicit description of the fact- else trading standards laws will rip Goolge apart.

    • kgelner

      How does Google NOT sell it as working with vendor specific streams only? Read the marketing, that is EXACTLY how it is marketed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545826215 Gavin Dendy

    I’ve had my computer hooked up to my tv for 3+ years, /wishful thinking.

  • Johhny Tbone

    My LG tv plays MKV and AVI…

  • HardoMardo

    Well now thats a real bummer, Holy cow man.

    AnonRights.tk

  • TIMMAH

    Yeah geez, why give people what they want?!?

  • thecrud

    Even my cheap blueray player can hit my ipod.

  • Rebelijah

    chrome>file open> movie.mkv > chromecast simple done stop the whining

    • frankm1

      Some are saying no sound with .mkv’s. Any truth to that?

      • Rebelijah

        haven’t had any issues for files I’ve played

        • frankm1

          Thanks.

          • mcg

            i get no audio when playing .mkv’s via the chrome browser

      • eAbyss

        Chrome doesn’t support AC3 or DTS. AAC and MP3 should play fine though.

  • Amakiir

    When chromecast was announced, I didn’t care. When people were talking about how awesome it is, I still didn’t care. When people started telling me why I supposedly shouldn’t like chromecast, I still did not care. And now people are trying to tell me chrimecast is evil, or something, and I still do not care. Honestly, when was the last time google released a good product? I can’t remember. Android phones, I guess? So like five years ago? As far as I can tell, google is irrelevant. They have a search engine and a famous name and they are trying desperately to release a relevant product. And consistently failing to do so. So, again, I don’t care.

    • John Holmes

      You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. For every iPhone that is sold, there are 4 Android Phones that are sold. There is thousands of relevant products that they have come out with. Name another company that is even close to their output in this field? None.

      • Nick Marus

        Because the more popular product is always the better product…

        • John Holmes

          for now, high end android phones seem to be the better product. Check your consumer reports. Apple is getting left in the dust.. oh yea, they did finally come out with colors.. how nice… late late late.

          • eAbyss

            If any company has become irrelevant it’s Apple. Their product lines have become stale, they lack ingenuity, people are really starting to get tired of their walled garden, and their products cost 3 times as much as much as their competitors’ while only being capable of doing less than a third of what they can do. iPhone’s brand new never seen before features have been rehashed Android features for a few years now. Their marketing department has been working overtime to claim that they’re still relevant and that they still come up with “ground breaking” features that have actually been in their competitors’ products for months to years.

  • http://heguy.tumblr.com Kuhnaydeein

    You gotta love their open platform…

  • Network233

    Thats what media center PC’s and Raspberry Pi’s are for..

  • Drew Woodliff

    This Chromecast sounds like a waste of time. I own a Roku 2 XS and a Roku 3. I also have Plex on both computers in the house as well as the Roku boxes (which are free), and all you do is install the app of your computer then pick the folders you want the app to scan for media files and it will convert and encode them for streaming no matter what the file type is. I haven’t run into a format it won’t stream. AVI, mkv, MP4, anything. As long as it doesn’t have iTunes DRM, it will stream. You can also get apps for your Apple or Android device and stream to those as well but those apps aren’t free.

  • Drew Woodliff

    Forgot to mention, I think Roku initially allowed AVI and MKV playback when they first released the USB channel but they’ve blocked it a while ago. I believe it only played MP4, so that’s why I went to Plex.

    Or you can take the long process of using Handbrake and convert your files to mp4 and putting them on the flash. Tried it, too much hassle.

    • Richard Killingsworth

      Roku still allows you to watch MKV files using their USB channel. Maybe the MKV file wasn’t encoded correctly or something. AVI files on the other hand..I’ve never heard of those working like that with the Roku.

  • phillipk

    i am going to return it since i cannot stream my ipad movies or iphone movies on it instead of using google video stupid. I thought how great it was. Someone told me I could that is why I got it. It is going back to AMazon

  • Adrian Lehman-Sizemore

    the easy fix would be for the engineers to design an opensource hardware plan and publish it!