Google Beefs Up Chromecast With Super Binge-Watching Powers and Motion Control

The $35 Chromecast has been on the market since July 2013, and it’s still one of the best devices you can plug into your television. Now Google aims to make it even better with updates designed to boost binge watching and multiplayer gaming. 

See also: See What’s New In Android Me

At the Google I/O developer conference, the company announced new tools that enable auto-queueing of videos—letting apps roll from one clip right into the next—and allow developers to support multiple devices connecting to a single Chromecast for multi-player games. Here’s how they work. 

Watch This

Up to this point, watching videos using Chromecast has been a one-and-done kind of experience. Users select and fling videos to the TV, one at a time.

Soon users will be able to cast content in a queue, rather than one-by-one.

Google wants its streaming stick to evolve, but without losing the simplicity that helped vault it to the top of the sales charts. The new auto-queueing feature seems to fit the bill. Users still fling (or “cast”) videos from their mobiles to their televisions, but the software now automatically lines up the next video in a playlist, buffering it while the first one is still playing.

Users might even be able to manage their queues and reorder the videos, if the app developer supports that detailed level of control. 

Game On

Google also created a new Game Manager API (application programming interface; see our API explainer), which lets multiple devices connect to a single Chromecast receiver, That support paves the way for  multi-player gameplay and motion control  inputs through mobile devices. 

Not that the dongle couldn’t connect to several devices at once before. Multiple users can cast videos to the TV, if they’re on the same network. However, with the new tools, Chromecast  make support multi-player scenarios for game apps. 

The new Game Manager API makes it easier for developers to make multiplayer Chromecast games than ever before.

Previously, developers interested in making multiplayer games had to spend time writing the fundamental code that allowed devices to connect to the Chromecast, keep track of what each player was doing, and how that all affected the main game on the TV. 

But the new Game Manager API does all that for developers, presumably easing development headaches, so they can come up with other creative ideas. 

A new Remote Display API might make virtual controllers out of all of our smartphones.

The company also offers the Remote Display API, so developers can create apps that let users control the action on the big screen with their handsets. 

For instance, with the Remote Display API, app makers can rely on smartphones or tablets as virtual controllers. Google Cast-supporting devices can run games using a smartphone’s motion detection as the method of user input. 

The Remote Display and Game Manager APIs could help us all turn our Chromecasts into Nintendo Wii-like game consoles, with our smartphones or smartwatches playing the roles of motion-sensing nunchucks. 

Google Cast product manager Nathan Camarillo goes over some of the new tools at developers’ disposal at I/O.

Nathan Camarillo, product manager with the Google Cast team, went over some of these new features during the “Growing Games at Google” session during I/O on Thursday, but he promised to go into greater detail on Friday morning during his Designing Games for Google Cast session. 

Of course, gaming developers aren’t the only ones who could take advantage of the Remote Display API. For instance, developers could create image editors or slideshows using motion control to make changes. 

The improvements apply to the Chromecast streaming dongle, plus any other Google Cast-enabled devices, including the Android TV-powered Nexus Player as well as third-party devices. 

Screenshots by Brian P. Rubin for ReadWrite

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Report: Apple Using Camera-Equipped Minivans To Capture Map Data

It’s a very safe bet that Google has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Google Maps and Street View. While many people regard Street View as eye candy, it has actually served a more important function: capturing real-world geo-data for Google Maps. Now Apple appears to following in…

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Want To Test Microsoft’s Continuum? This May Be The Windows Phone You Need

A new, high-end Windows Phone was spotted on the GFXBench benchmarks database on Friday. This could wind up being Microsoft’s next flagship Lumia—and the first one to offer its exciting new Windows 10 feature, Continuum, which lets you turn your phone into a desktop PC.

Neowin noted that NokiaPowerUser was the first to spot the listing, which calls the phone a “Nokia RM-1106,” and says it runs the Windows Phone operating system. 

Nokia’s mobile division is now a subsidiary of Microsoft proper, so its designation as a Nokia device is likely a holdover. What’s important are the specifications listed on the benchmarks entry, and what they might mean for Windows Phone users waiting for Microsoft to flip the switch on for Windows 10, the first truly unified desktop/tablet/phone operating system from Microsoft.

Inspecting The Specs

The entry seems to reveal some high-end specs that suggest it could be the handset codenamed “Talkman” that we’d heard about in early May, which Neowin and NokiaPowerUser theorize could be a Lumia 930 follow-up. It’ll sport 32 GB of onboard storage, 3 GB of RAM, a six-core CPU, a 20-megapixel rear camera, and a 5.2-inch HD display.

Screenshot via GFXBench

The actual figures in the entry differ a bit from the ones listed above, but that’s only because the benchmarks record the space available at the time of the test itself; 27 gigabytes of storage is what’s left over after accounting for the space taken up by the OS itself, while the 1.5 GB of RAM shows what’s not being used.

What’s most significant, however, is that these specs seem to confirm that Microsoft has big plans for its mobile devices. Windows 10 Mobile—which will replace the “Windows Phone” name of its mobile OS—will offer users the Continuum feature, which changes the user interface based on its context.

For instance, if I’m using my Surface Pro 3 with a keyboard, I’ll have a traditional desktop-like Windows interface. But if I take the keyboard off, Continuum will know this, and ask if I want to switch to tablet mode. That mode sports a touch-optimized interface, one more conducive to using a stylus or my finger to interact with Windows.

A glimpse at how a Windows 10 Mobile device will look on the big screen with continuum

The same powers will come to Microsoft’s mobile offerings. When you plug a Windows 10 Mobile phone into a larger display along with a keyboard and mouse, for instance, Continuum will know what’s happening and change its UI to reflect its new setting. 

Suddenly mobile phones will be able to become real, full-fledged PCs—and the specs revealed in this benchmark entry show that Microsoft won’t skimp on the power when it comes to showing off what Continuum can do.

In the meantime, developers experimenting with Windows 10 Mobile Technical Preview via the Windows Insider program ought to think about all that can be done on a device with those specifications. 

While Microsoft has said that the mobile version of its new operating system will likely come out a little while after the desktop version, it’s never too soon to start thinking about new and interesting ways that Continuum will change the way we work with Windows.

Windows Phone images courtesy of Microsoft; GFXbench and Continuum screenshots by Brian P. Rubin for ReadWrite

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SearchCap: Google Maps Offline, App Indexing & Structured Data

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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The New Network Imperative For Today’s Clouds

This SDxCentral video is sponsored by Brocade. It reflects the views of the sponsor, not ReadWrite’s editors.

With cloud architectures becoming pervasive across enterprise and service provider data centers, it’s important to understand the reasons why this new architecture is so compelling from both a business and technical standpoint. 

It is just as important is to understand what makes up these cloud architectures and how they will drive new networking requirements. 

SDxCentral has prepared a video presentation on the key attributes of this New Network Imperative and what any enterprise or service provider building a cloud needs to look for from their networking vendor.

If you’re an enterprise or service provider building out cloud architectures or looking to do so in the near future, you should watch this 20-minute webinar that covers the different flavors of clouds, key components in clouds, the new role of networking in cloud architectures and most importantly, the seven critical attributes needed to build a successful cloud network.

Watch the SDxCentral video to learn more.

This SDxCentral video is sponsored by Brocade. It reflects the views of the sponsor, not ReadWrite’s editors.

Video (c) SDxCentral, used by permission; photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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3 Crazy PPC CRO Hacks To Boost Conversion Rates Right Now

Columnist Larry Kim debunks common misconceptions about best practices for paid search ads, then explains what you should be doing instead to really boost your conversion rates.

The post 3 Crazy PPC CRO Hacks To Boost Conversion Rates Right Now appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Who Are Apple Watch Users?; Free Download: Hyper Local SEO & Marketing … – ADOTAS

Who Are Apple Watch Users?; Free Download: Hyper Local SEO & Marketing
Download Free Book: Hyper Local SEO & Marketing Oban Digital, an international digital marketing agency specializing in leveraging the local cultural nuances of digital audiences and ad platforms, is offering a free download of a nine-chapter book by

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Apple’s Latest Acquisition Shows It’s Serious About Augmented Reality

While Google was busy showing off its latest innovations in the field of virtual reality yesterday, Apple was quietly acquiring a augmented reality startup by the name of Metaio. TechCrunch confirmed the news

Apple, as is typical, had very little to say on the purchase, and the terms have not been disclosed.

Metaio began as a project inside Volkswagen in 2003 to build a platform for augmented-reality experiences. It later spun out of the German automaker. One of the projects the firm has worked on in the past is a showroom app for Ferrari that lets users overlay various virtual graphics on top of the cars in front of them.

The San Francisco-based firm had given its customers cause for concern after canceling its user conference and disabling its Twitter accounts. Now the reason for that disruption has been revealed.

With Metaio boasting around a thousand customers and 150,000 users across 30 countries, Apple is getting some serious expertise with its purchase. Metaio had previously received funding from Atlantic Bridge and Westcott.

As Oculus Rift gets closer to a consumer launch and Microsoft wows users with demos of HoloLens, virtual worlds are taking the technology landscape by storm. Even Google’s much-maligned Glass is preparing a return. Oculus recently made a purchase of its own, picking up augmented reality startup Surreal Vision earlier this week.

Augmented And Virtual Realities

Augmented reality (where digital graphics are layered over the real world) and virtual reality (where an entirely digital world is created) are distinctly different technologies, though they have a lot in common.

Google Glass and HoloLens offer augmented reality (AR); devices like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are in the virtual reality (VR) camp. AR equipment has to do more work in terms of identifying what’s in front of the user and calculating distances and areas.

A demo video shows Metaio software running on the Epson Moverio, a Glass-style device. With the technology advancing so quickly, Apple has little choice but to get involved.

Interesting though this acquisition is, it’s hardly a big reveal: Apple was awarded a patent for a head-mounted VR display back in February, and the iOS 9 version of Maps is rumored to include an augmented reality element, enabling users to point their iPhones at a scene and see nearby places of interest.

We don’t know whether Apple will eventually produce some kind of headset of its own or simply develop software to put inside iOS, but our augmented and virtual realities are approaching faster than you might think.

Image courtesy of Metaio

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10 Tips for Keeping Your WordPress Site Secure by @GregSecrist

If you run a WordPress site, don’t miss these tips on how to proactively protect yourself from security vulnerabilities.

The post 10 Tips for Keeping Your WordPress Site Secure by @GregSecrist appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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App Indexing: Why It Matters For The Future Of Search

What is app indexing, and how is it relevant to you? Columnist Neil Patel explains.

The post App Indexing: Why It Matters For The Future Of Search appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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