App developers can now push their software onto a TV screen using a software development kit that Google is introducing for its Chromecast media streaming device.
The SDK, which is being released starting Monday, lets developers port their apps to the Chromecast, a US$35 HDMI dongle that the company released last year for TV and music streaming. A small set of services including YouTube, Netflix and Pandora already work with the device, but the software toolkit might usher in a range of new applications to let people, say, beam a Google Hangout session or their Facebook news feed to a TV.
The toolkit could also boost Google's ability to compete with the Apple TV, which Apple has yet to open up to outside developers.
The SDK will be available on Android and iOS as well as on Google's Chrome operating system through the Google Cast browser extension, the company said.
Developers don't need to create a new app for it to work: The SDK can be incorporated into existing mobile and Web apps to port them to the TV, Google said. In addition, the SDK has a default media player that can be used to play back simple HTML5 content, and more customized options are available using CSS.
Google has already made some sample apps available on GitHub, to show developers how to, for example, send messages from a Chrome desktop browser to a TV receiver, or how to cast videos to the TV from an iOS app.
It's still early to say whether the toolkit will catch on. And some existing apps, such as those for people on the go, may not make sense to stream to a TV. But if developers come up with useful applications, that could help Google incorporate more of its services into people's homes.
Google also demonstrated its interest in people's home data last month when it acquired thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion.
Google said the Google Cast extension for Chrome would begin rolling out Monday, along with the SDK for iOS. The Google Cast SDK for Android will be available in a few days as part of the Google Play Services 4.2 update, the company said.