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Android Mirroring Coming to the Chromecast

Recent additions to Android 4.4.1 uncovered by CyanogenMod developer Koushik Dutta show new mirroring APIs being added soon.

The permissions relating to capturing "secure" and non-secure video output.

The permissions relating to capturing “secure” and non-secure video output.

The APIs would let apps capture video output and potentially push them to the Chromecast and, hypothetically, Apple TV and Miracast devices.

The addition of new permissions for capturing both normal and “secure” video output was noted by Koushik Dutta, whose work includes the AllCast (née AirCast) app we previously highlighted that lets your Android phone or tablet stream local video to a number of devices.

“Not for use by third-party applications.”

Unfortunately, the mirroring APIs are locked down for now, which means it’s all but certain that any apps that come from Google or its content partners will feature exclusive support for the Chromecast.

But why exactly? Dutta notes that Android already prevents “secure” and DRM-laden content from being mirrored if only the non-secure “CAPTURE_VIDEO_OUTPUT” permission is held – a permission Dutta argues could have been exposed to the public whilst leaving the “CAPTURE_SECURE_VIDEO_OUTPUT” permission for “trusted” partners only. This could give content providers peace of mind whilst letting the wider development community work with mirroring too.

But limiting Chromecast APIs isn’t anything new. Though a preview Chromecast SDK is available online and developers can request whitelisting for testing a device, Google have kept development a rather exclusive affair between itself and the content providers slowly trickling into the minuscule ecosystem.

Hope from CyanogenMod

'Cast screen' in CyanogenMod 11, though no Apple TVs around.

‘Cast screen’ in CM 11, though no Apple TVs around.

But never fear!

With CyanogenMod 11 (i.e., KitKat) nightlies starting to make their way to devices, users of the popular Android distribution will have mirroring functionality available for AirPlay devices – e.g., Apple TV.

A new option in Settings > Display & lights called Cast screen lists any nearby AirPlay devices, and beta APKs provided by Dutta include both general screen recording (which you can stream to a number of supported devices via AllPlay) and direct AirPlay mirroring.

Though the Screencasting/AirPlay app was available for CM 10.2 (i.e., 4.3 Jelly Bean), the APIs have changed significantly enough to require CM 11 going forward.

Nonetheless, this is a significant development considering the hurdles for third-party app developers who see great potential in the Chromecast. Though Android mirroring for Google’s affordable content streaming device may be a ways off, much of CyanogenMod’s KitKat work – and, indeed, Google’s upcoming 4.4.1 update – is already up to the task.

  • EranSch

    Not even sure I have a valid use for this but it’s still, to date, the function of my chromecast that I’m most excited about.

  • Curtis Mitchell

    Video out was the number one feature on my wish list with my G1 Nexus 7. I figured I’d be buying a new tab after the first of the year to replace it but a $35 add-on sounds much more appealing since my original Nexus 7 still does everything else I want it to perfectly

  • Don Droga

    Don’t want to mod my Nexus 7 for this feature.