Google appears to be planning to extend screencasting capabilities in Chromecast to allow Android devices to mirror the screen to TVs.
Google released Android 4.4.1 last week, primarily to fix the camera in the Nexus 5, but as with many Android updates from Google, changes to the source code Google submits to the Android Open Source Project often contain clues as to what's in store.
Developers at Funky Android over the weekend released a list of changes that were included in the update, including hints that Google is planning to let Android devices mirror their screens with nearby TVs, via Google's Chromecast.
Chromecast is the company's $35 answer to Apple TV. The dongle plugs into the HDMI port of an HDTV, which in theory allows the Android device to share its display with a larger screen. However, at the moment, Chromecast only permits screencasting through supported apps — such as Chrome, Netflix, Hulu and a few others.
Koushik Dutta, co-founder of Cyanogen Inc, which makes its own Android firmware, found the reference to the feature in Funky Android's change logs for the latest Android release, noting: "From the patches I see in 4.4.1, they'll be adding Android mirroring to Chromecast very soon."
But, Dutta adds, the feature will be closed to third-party developers (besides OEMs), meaning it won't be able to support projects that aim to use the same Android screencasting functionality with non-Chromecast hardware. Android owners do have other means of screencasting, however, such as with several dongles that support Miracast.
While Chromecast is available for purchase outside the US, usually at higher prices than in the country, so far Google has focused on its efforts around content deals with US providers such as HBO.
Meanwhile, a group of Danish developers is attempting to build an alternative to Chromecast, but one of the obstacles they face in supporting screencasting from Android devices is that Google won't permit third-party access to the Android APIs that would make such functionality possible.