Google announced the availability of beta versions of new APIs that will enable Android devices to stream games directly to TVs.
Users of Google's Chromecast will soon be able to stream more than just video and audio from their mobile devices to the TV. In addition, they will also be able to play iOS and Android games on their big screens without having to mirror content between their mobile devices and the Google Cast device.
Beta-test versions of new application programming interfaces (API) for developers of mobile games for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets were one of many new products and services that the company introduced at its Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.
The new Google Cast Remote Display APIs will give game developers a way to enable an "integrated second screen experience," for users of iOS and Android devices, Nathan Camarillo and David Allison, Google Cast product managers, said in a blog post
Unlike the "Casting Your Android Screen" option that is currently available on Chromecast, the new APIs will enable iOS and Android games to send video and audio frames to a TV where users can play them without the need for game consoles. In addition, a new Game Manager API for Google Cast will make it easier for developers to build multiplayer games than can be streamed to a Google cast receiver, the two product managers said.
The new support for gaming apps could boost Chromecast's
popularity even further. Released in July 2013, Google's $35 to $40 Chromecast is currently only second behind Roku in terms of market share in the streaming media segment.
Market numbers released by Parks Associates
in December showed Roku holding a 29 percent share of streaming media sales, followed by Google Chromecast with 20 percent.
In the less than two years that the device has been in the market, Chromecast has supplanted Apple TV for second place, according to Parks Associates. Google itself claims it has sold about 17 million of the devices since launch. It claims that active Chromecast users currently consume about 66 percent more Web content daily, compared to when the device was first launched.
In addition to the new support for mobile games, Google has also released new APIs that will soon enable autoplay and queuing of video and audio files on Chromecast. Currently, the streaming media device lets user stream only a single audio or video file at a time. The new APIs will allow developers to build support for content queues and buffering while a previous video or audio file is finishing playback, the Google product managers said.
"This enables the creation of a continuous playback experience and can significantly increase watch time, helping lift per-session watch times by 10 to 20 percent or more," Camarillo and Allison claimed in their blog entry.
Google's moves come amid surging interest in media streaming services and devices. According to Parks Associates, about 10 percent of U.S. households with broadband services owned a streaming device, like Chromecast in 2014. The number is expected to soar to 25 percent of U.S. broadband households this year. By 2017, Parks Associates estimates there will more than 50 million media players sold globally.
In addition to Roku, Google and Apple, other big players in this market include Amazon and Sony. Among the current streaming media market leaders, only Apple has yet to release a streaming media device, the analyst firm has noted.