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This Is Mozilla’s Answer to the Google Chromecast

firefox chromecast

The Firefox OS ‘Chromecast Rival’

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:

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.

  • This isn’t Mozilla’s. This is a hardware partner who did all the work. I also don’t see how this is Chrome news, like wow someone cloned a Chromecast.

    • 1: You didn’t seem to read the article. No worries, it’s the internet. Most people don’t: “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.”

      2: I don’t see how it’s not Chrome news. It’s mimicking Chromecast functionality. I.e. it’s targeting a similar market. Mozilla has also previously stated their intention to support Chromecast, and this Firefox OS prototype also supports (select) Chromecast apps. That also makes it ‘Chrome’ news as it’s supporting a ‘Chrome’ technology.

      When did joining dots get so hard for people?!

      • Heimen Stoffels

        And even then, who’s to say they didn’t make this prototype? A lot of software companies sometimes make prototypes themselves just to show off what their software can do and let other companies produce in batch whenever it’s ready for the big market.

  • JPB

    Interesting, but like a lot of Firefox mobile efforts, I just don’t see where it fills any demand in the market. Chromecast is here, it works, it supports a lot of apps. Same for Roku and FireTV. Not much need for another player here.

    • Jared Deklems

      It fills the demand for an open-source alternative… FOSS users are Mozilla’s target audience.

      • Kenny Strawn

        The majority of the source code to the Chrome OS/CyanogenMod mashup that the Chromecast runs is indeed open

        • Jared Deklems

          Most of it. I mean, we can’t see 100% of what’s on the Chromecast, and parts of Chrome OS is closed-source…

          Mozilla delivers 100% FOSS projects, so this Firefox-Cast better be 100% FOSS- if not, then it’s useless.

          • Kenny Strawn

            Yeah, I’m with you there. Then again, even if 100% of Mozilla’s rival is indeed FOSS, so is 99.999…% (pretty much the only two closed things about Chrome vs. Chromium are A, the logo, and B, Pepper Flash… everything else is out there for the world to tinker with) of the Chromecast’s code open… But, if you’re a purist like Richard Stallman, go ahead.

      • Heimen Stoffels

        That’s why I’m in for this Firecast, but it’s a bit strange though because they just announced support for Chromecast in Mozilla… If they really wanted to snoop some market share from Google with this Firecast, it’s kinda strange to add support for your rival.

    • Heimen Stoffels

      If we all thought that way back in the day, then we’d be doing without a lot of stuff we’re used to by now.

    • Timothy Warehime

      Not true if you happen to be on windows phone or have an older less capable computer. I have chromecast and can not even use it with my new phone.

  • So is this duplicating Chromecast’s functionality with it’s own, or using the Chromecast APIs? Would this work with an app with Chromecast support but not Netcast support?

    • Heimen Stoffels

      “duplicating” Oh, so it’s duplicating functionality. In that case, tell Google to stop “duplicating” Apple TV with their Android TV software. And tell Samsung to stop “duplicating” Panasonic’s smart TV software. And so the list goes on…

      • bozzykid

        But the dongle itself does very little. The question will be if mobile apps have to add in separate support for a separate API Firefox creates.

  • Kenny Strawn

    Tempted to (jokingly) call it “Firefoxcast”… though I’m probably the only one amused here.

    • Heimen Stoffels

      You are. Now if you had said “Firecast”, I’d be more amused.

  • David

    With this whole streaming and casting thing being so popular, I could see why Mozilla would want Firefox to have it’s own casting companion, but on the flipside I don’t see how this really makes sense for Mozilla, given they’re a non-profit and this concept strays a bit from their mission, though I suppose it could be justified with the “accessibility” principle in their mission statement. All in all I don’t see this being a huge success, but I’d be pleasantly surprised to see it become ubiquitous.

  • badman07

    Mozilla shows Firefox’s new Search Interface :