Google’s Chromecast dongle for pushing digital content from ones phone, tablet, or laptop to a TV screen isn’t exactly a high-end device – the full retail price is $35, and it’s on sale constantly – but its unexpected to many been a huge success for the company. Over 17 million of the dongles have been sold, the Cast button has been pushed over 1.5 billion times, and Google says Chromecast users consume 66% more content per day than when the device launch in 2013. To push the network of Cast buttons and supported content even further, Google has released some new APIs for developers to build richer experiences.
The first new Google Cast API that’s been released is the Remote Display API for iOS and Android, available now under the beta label. Whereas in the past casting any content to the TV would result in a mirroring experience where the same content as displayed on the TV is displayed on the mobile device, now developers can create second-screen experiences where something different is shown on the mobile device. The example in the photo above is a good one, where once a game is casted to the TV the phone turns into a gamepad. Anyone who’s ever used a Wii U or the Xbox Smart Glass should be quite familiar with this idea.
Next up are new APIs for queueing and autoplaying content. When combined together the two new APIs will allow developers to create a seamless experience of continuous playback where they can create queues of content and begin buffering the next video before playback of the current is finished. Once you can queue multiple pieces of content at once it would make sense to also create functions for developers to allow for the skipping, repeating, and reordering of items, so Google added all three of those to the queuing API as well. The company says these sort of seamless playback experiences that can now be created help lift per-session watch times by 10-20%.
Finally, Google is introducing a new Games Manager API that makes it easier for developers to create multiplayer games that use the Cast device (Chromecast, Android TV, etc) as a hub for keeping every player’s game state in sync with one another. Now when anything from a player leaving the game to the game itself ending happens, it’ll simply be much easier for developers to send messages and state changes to all connected devices. This new update was bundled along with Google Play services 7.5.
All of these new APIs are available for Android today, with the updates for iOS and Chrome available “in the coming days.”