Mozilla is working on a Google Chromecast rival, a leak has revealed this week.
Christian Heilmann, a ‘developer evangelist’ for the company best known for driving development of the Firefox web browser, tweeted a photo of a prototype media streaming device.
Heilmann described his image of the adapter as “a fully open TV casting prototype device running Firefox OS. Open boot loader and all.”
Mozilla is said to have been working on the media streamer with an unnamed hardware partner for some time, though Heilmann took umbrage with suggestions that this was done in ‘secret’, tweeting:
I work at Mozilla because there are no secret projects and you can take our code and be creative with it. We do open source, not hardware.
— Christian Heilmann (@codepo8) June 21, 2014
Mozilla Firefox Netcast
As for the Firefox Chromecast rival itself all we know thus far is that it works, by and large, like the Chromecast. Users can ‘fling’ content to a connected TV through supported apps or browsers.
Engadget reports that the dongle even supports a number of Chromecast-enabled Android apps, including YouTube and Google Play Music, though support is said to be hit and miss right now.
Despite the novelty of Cast app support the adapter will likely seek to democratise access and promote an open standard for its ‘fling’ implementation than rely solely on software built using the Google Cast SDK.
When, Who and How Much?
Details on branding, pricing, or release date is yet to be shared by Mozilla.
We learned in May that Mozilla plans to add Chromecast support to Firefox‘s mobile offerings in the near future. It’s in the aforelinked article that, unofficially at least, the device is referred to as the ‘netcast':
“Second screen …making good progress. Hoping to have Netcast and Chromecast support landed by the end of the week.”
As an open-source project Mozilla Firefox OS is free for anyone to use. It may be that a hardware company is simply liaising with Mozilla on a project of its own utilising their code rather than Mozilla steering the device directly.
Regardless, many apps developers will be hoping that the thumb-sized gadget arrives sooner rather than later.
Chromecast support is currently limited to mobile apps on Android and iOS and apps built for the Google Chrome browser. Desktop app developers, like VLC, are having to wrestle with hacks to feature native support for it.
It’s easy to see how an accessible, developer-friendly ‘TV casting’ technology from Mozilla could find favour with frustrated developers.
But until Mozilla or its secret hardware partner reveals more it’s unlikely that Google Cast devices will be worrying too much.