Opinion: Chromecast is a home trojan horse

Whilst the focus at I/O this year was on Android TV, Google hasn't forgotten Chromecast. Yesterday, the web giant posted an update to the Cast SDK which will allow developers to cut many lines of code from their applications for the device as well as improving the Media Player Library.

But although most of the improvements are not the most exciting, there is one addition which may pique some people's interests...

The "route selector" now shows the name of the receiver app currently running on the Cast device which led me to envision a world in which Chromecast plays a major role in Google's home automation strategy. After all, Google priced the streaming dongle as affordable as possible for you to add the device to every available HDMI port in every room in your home.

Imagine Google being able to tell when your TV, computer monitor, or home stereo is on or off and what applications they are running to build a schedule of your day and lifestyle preferences. Many devices can power on and off via the HDMI port, so, for example, Google could have the TV on ready for you and tuned to that new TV show you've been watching the trailer for on YouTube using Google Chrome and Gmailing your friend about.

This, of course, would only be a part of Google's home automation line-up. Specialist devices will still be required such as Google's recently-acquired Nest Thermostat, for heating , or DropCam, for home surveillance. However, most of today's connected devices already do so via Wi-Fi, so theoretically if the manufacturer of your smart garage door wants to join Google's vast ecosystem in the future then a firmware update could be all that is needed to allow control via the Chromecast(s) in your home.

Other features included in the latest Cast SDK update, for those interested, include closed caption support. Previously to add this functionality to your streaming content you would have had to implement your own method; such as adding a track element for subtitles to the video track. It was a cumbersome and time-wasting approach which has now been rectified through built-in support. The DemoCastPlayer sample application has been updated to demonstrate the new addition and how it can be used.

The Media Player Library has gained HLS audio streams abilities for multiple sound tracks at the same time. It also improves available bit rate (ABR) calculations, and the CEA-608 closed captions decoder.

Do you think Chromecast could be part of Google's home automation strategy? Let us know in the comments.

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