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Author Topic: Deliberate hamstringing of Chromecast by Google?  (Read 1763 times)


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Deliberate hamstringing of Chromecast by Google?
« on: August 28, 2013, 02:34 AM »
Rather curious incident reported by ArsTechnica. Though not famous for their journalistic rigour/objectivity, they could be pointing to something new of potential concern about the NSA's co-operative behemoth:
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Chromecast could stream local files—until Google killed the feature
A developer writes that his mobile streaming app no longer works.
by Casey Johnston - Aug 26, 2013 3:00 pm UTC

Koushik Dutta demoed his app at the beginning of August. Its functionality dies with the most recent Chromecast update.
A Chromecast app that allowed users to feed local files from a mobile device directly to the Chromecast has been disabled with the most recent software update for the device. The developer of the app, Koushik Dutta, stated that his AirCast used code that had been hanging around in the Chromecast software for a while, but some new lines that Google inserted “short circuit everything but mirroring,” preventing apps that would circumvent Google-approved apps.
Per Dutta’s Google+ posts, the Chromecast extension app contains “video_playback” and “slideshow” cases that would allow the Chromecast to handle local files. Dutta reverse engineered the protocol and developed AirCast to take advantage of these capabilities and demoed the results in a video.
The latest Chromecast update now breaks that functionality with a few new lines:

Code: Text [Select]
  1. if("mirror_tab" != a) {
  2. return null;
  3. }
This code prevents “the ability to play media from external sources,” Dutta said.

It is still possible to play local files from the Chrome browser on the desktop by dragging them into a tab and streaming the tab to the Chromecast. That still leaves local files on mobile devices stuck without transfer to a PC. Dutta said that one of the sample Chromecast apps initially demonstrated mobile playback functionality, suggesting that the Chromecast was as capable of a streaming device as any “full fledged mobile computer.”

Google has not offered any public comment on why the video playback and slideshow cases were disabled, and the company did not respond immediately to requests for comment. We will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

Update: Google has provided the following statement:
   We’re excited to bring more content to Chromecast and would like to support all types of apps, including those for local content. It's still early days for the Google Cast SDK, which we just released in developer preview for early development and testing only.
   We expect that the SDK will continue to change before we launch out of developer preview, and want to provide a great experience for users and developers before making the SDK and additional apps more broadly available.

Yeah, right.
Looks like some good old-fashioned prevarication there. There is also the use of that cliché "excited" again, which seems to often precede a major piece of bullshit from G.