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August 13, 2013

CheapCast Uses WebRTC to Mimic Chromecast Functionality

Google and many other Web and mobile companies have been vying for a place in the television industry for a couple years now. It hasn’t been easy for the search giant to stake its claim in this space, though, despite some solid efforts. For example, Google TV — which directly competes with standard set-top box offerings like Apple TV and Roku — hasn’t done very well, despite partnerships with big names such as LG and Samsung.

More recently, Google unveiled Chromecast, which offers more game-changing functionality. Put simply, Chromecast is a device that provides a simple way to stream online content to any HDMI-enabled TV. The device, no bigger than a USB stick, features an accompanying app on desktop and mobile platforms.

Unfortunately, like with many Google devices, Chromecast is often out of stock, but developer Sebastian Mauer has created a way around this with CheapCast, an emulator for Android that mimics Chromecast functionality. In other words, CheapCast allows users to substitute any Android device for an actual Chromecast stick.

Mauer posted a video demonstration of CheapCast in action in which he hooks a phone up to a tablet, sending video from the first device to the second. To stream to a television, it’s possible to use an Android HDMI stick, or possibly even a television with built-in Google TV functionality — but that would be redundant.

CheapCast is somewhat limited, however, as it doesn’t support tab casting, a function that allows users to stream their desktop, browser or local media to a TV. Ironically, this is because CheapCast relies on WebRTC to work, according to tech2. On the upside, CheapCast seems pretty easy to use, as it doesn’t even need root access to work.

Currently, CheapCast is in its earliest stages — Mauer’s video is labelled as merely a proof of concept — but it should continue to receive updates for the foreseeable future.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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