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Chromecast May Get Screen Mirroring With Android 4.4.1

Late last week, Google began rolling out Android 4.4.1 "KitKat" to the Nexus 5 and other Nexus devices. Google said on Thursday that the update improves the camera on the Nexus 5 with faster focusing, especially in low light. The camera is also improved with faster white balancing for truer colors, less shutter lag, and the ability to pinch-zoom the viewfinder in HDR+ mode.

"HDR+ lets you to take great shots in challenging environments, say where there's a large contrast of bright and dark portions of the scene and also in low light situations. When you press the shutter button, instead of taking just one picture, we take a burst of shots in about 1/3 of a second, and apply computational photography to intelligently fuse images together," the Nexus Google+ page states.

However, Cynaogen Inc.'s Koushik Dutta also discovered in the changelog something that points to the ability to send an entire screen to Chromecast, AKA "screen mirroring." One bit of code lists "Capture_Secure_Video_Output" and a second bit reads "Capture_Video_Output." This presumably allows an Android device to mirror its screen on an HDTV without the need for a wired HDMI connection. The code reveals that this feature is only used by Google and OEMs; use by third-party applications is not allowed.

For the uninitiated, Chromecast is Google's popular key-shaped media streamer that plugs directly into an HDMI port. The device connects to the owner's Google account, and will play videos and music from the cloud. As an example, owners can load up Pandora on their Android smartphone, pick a station, then hit the little rectangle "wireless screen" icon at the bottom right. This tells Chromecast to pull up the same station, and allows the owner to freely use the smartphone once the stream begins.

Google's little gadget has become so popular that TIME magazine ranked it as #1 in its Top 10 Gadgets of 2013. The company didn't take the same Google TV path by trying to make a TV-focused operating system, but chose to keep it simple and allow current gadgets like tablets and smartphones to control what's displayed on the HDTV.

"This thumb-sized gizmo does one thing, does it as simply as possible and does it for the impulse-purchase price of $35," writes TIME. "Plug it into one of your TV's HDMI ports, and you can fling videos and other content from your laptop, tablet or phone to the big screen, no wires involved. Lots of companies have built devices to do this; Chromecast is the first one that gets it right."

Currently, Chromecast supports HBO GO, Pandora, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Google Play TV & Movies, Google Play Music, YouTube, and whatever is displayed in the Chrome browser after a special extension is installed. Screen mirroring would presumably arrive in the form of a small app that users would tap to turn screen mirroring off and on. This could make cable-free document editing possible on large screens.

  • kawininjazx
    We need more features with the Chromecast, I bought one and all it did was Netflix and Youtube. Now at least we have Hulu and Pandora, but I don't see why we couldn't have done this all along.
    Reply
  • r_w
    People keep regurgitating the same information. One of the reasons I bought the Chromcast was to mirror my Chrome window - but it only can do that (and not very well) from a PC - *not* from a phone.

    Still - it does play YouTube nicely...
    Reply
  • teh_chem
    I'm still surprised at how popular Chromecast was. I'm sure it has a significant plug-and-play value for most people without a smart TV or form of HTPC, but (and while I have never used one myself), its on-paper capabilities make it seem so anemic. For $15 more you can get a Roku box and do far, far more than what Chromecast allows.
    Reply
  • kawininjazx
    12139943 said:
    I'm still surprised at how popular Chromecast was. I'm sure it has a significant plug-and-play value for most people without a smart TV or form of HTPC, but (and while I have never used one myself), its on-paper capabilities make it seem so anemic. For $15 more you can get a Roku box and do far, far more than what Chromecast allows.

    You get 3 free months of netflix with it, so it's actually like $11
    Reply
  • the1kingbob
    Only $11 if you weren't already paying for netflix. I bought it right when it was announced, but have been a bit disappointed in its lack of adoption. Casting PC Chrome tabs hasn't worked well for me, but netflix has been nice. If I knew when I bought it there would still be little adoption I would have bought a second Roku for $50. The chromecast can be awesome, it just simply not at this time. I hope the N4 sees some of the camera improvements seen on the N5..
    Reply
  • rwinches
    My Sony BDP S3100 has a ton of Video and Audio web content and it plays BD DVD and CD it was $60.
    There are lots of great options, most better than what Smart TVs have to offer.
    I just got a 40" flat screen 120Hz 1080p on BF lots of inputs $200 less than half list.
    I am going to get a PC/TV stick and do the custom ROM/ROOT thing and run something like XBMC. They are cheap and you get to learn something new.
    Reply
  • Rirath
    >Only $11 if you weren't already paying for netflix

    I was already paying for Netflix and the promo still worked just fine. It simply credited your account the value, so no bill for a few months depending on your plan options.
    Reply
  • Jgriff
    Or just get a ouya and be done with it, fully function android os on your tv for under 100. Makes for a great Xbmc device/ retro game player.
    Reply
  • Screen mirroring is out in the wild with 4.4.2. I received the OTA on my Nexus 4 last night. The option is under Settings -> Display -> Cast Screen.
    Reply
  • TechJunkie69
    Wirelessly mirroring has been available on the nexus 4 since launch, and on the 10 since 4.3 (works great with my netgear ptv3000). All they did was change the name in anticipation of Chromecast support. What it means exactly is what intrigues me. Are nexus devices just getting the ability to cast to it or is the Chromecast going to support the miracast standard?
    Reply