Chromecast app list could grow as Google preps dev kit release

Chromecast HDMI adapter
Open SDK could mean a whole lot more apps for Chromecast

The number of apps Chromecast supports has hamstrung the otherwise excellent media dongle, but that could change once Google opens up its much-needed SDK to developers.

The Android company is ready to do just that, it confirmed to TechRadar, inviting whitelisted device developers to an event in two and a half weeks.

"The Chromecast team is hosting a two-day hackathon for developers to test-drive the upcoming release of the Google Cast SDK," read a copy and pasted invite sent to one of these developers.

"Engineers will be available to share changes from the developer preview, discuss best practices, and answer any questions."

What it means for Chromecast owners

The Chromecast SDK doesn't mean much for the average media streaming user out there, but having it in the hands of developers could quickly enhance the device, turning it into Google's secret weapon.

If Google releases these powerful software tools to everyday developers, we could see an Android-like store filled with all sorts of creative apps that are compatible with the Chromecast.

That's undoubtedly needed. Chromecast initially only beamed Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV to televisions via smartphones, tablets and computers. The Chrome browser did the same from computers.

With just five apps, it's a good thing buying the $35 (about £22, AU$38) Chromecast felt like a five-finger discount. The cheap price outweighed the disappointing number of applications.

Hulu Plus and Pandora were added last month, while HBO Go became the latest app to sport a cast button this week.

Chromecast could out-app Apple TV

The Chromecast app list is now at eight and still pales in comparison to the Apple TV ecosystem, which has about 100 compatible apps.

Apple is always adding more, too. Yahoo Screen and PBS were this week's additions in the US, for example. Because they're both video apps, they weren't available outside of the States.

The newer Chromecast could easily catch up if Google were to open the SDK. Apple TV, despite its long list of apps, is still subject to Apple's walled-garden.

As we surmised in our Chromecast review, the first company to open their respective media streaming device to average developers could win the TV war, seeing how the App Store and Google Play store turned out.

Matt Swider