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Chromecast hacked: uses Google TV code, stripped of Android features

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
Google described its new Chromecast HDMI web streaming device as running a slimmed down version of ChromeOS, but hackers have discovered it's really Google TV without the Android features.

chromecast-130724.jpg


Google's ChromeOS is essentially a Linux distribution aimed at netbooks and PCs, but designed to only run a version of the company's Chrome web browser. Other features are implemented as rich web apps within the desktop-like browser environment.

Google described its new Chromecast as running ChromeOS without the Chrome user interface, or essentially Linux. But according a report by Google TV enthusiast site GTVHacker, "No, it's not."

The hacker group exploited bugs in the device the same day they received one, allowing them to modify the system and activate shell access "to better investigate the environment as well as give developers a chance to build and test software on their Chromecasts."

Google TV, minus the Android



In examining the device, the group "concluded that it?s more Android than ChromeOS," adding, "to be specific, it?s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast."

Bionic is Google's replacement standard C library for Android, which replaces the GPL-licensed code in Linux to avoid entangling Android software in GPL-related licensing issues. It's also optimized for running on lower end devices than the original distributions of Linux aimed at PCs and servers."It?s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast" - GTVHacker

Dalvik is the higher-level Virtual Machine of Android that runs apps. Android's Dalvik is essentially a rewritten, optimized variant of Sun's Java VM, an issue that has spawned a legal fight between Google and Oracle after the latter acquired Sun and accused Android of infringing its intellectual property.

Developers creating software for Android devices can target Dalvik with Java-like apps packaged as JAR files, or write low level C-code using Google's Native Development Kit, targeting the lower level Bionic. But neither of these are supported on Chromecast, unlike Google's previous attempts to target the living room with Google TV devices and its own Nexus Q.

(As an aside, third party apps for iOS are native Objective-C code targeting Apple's Cocoa Touch frameworks; Apple doesn't support a Java or a Java-like VM on iOS, so there's no need for a separate NDK to finagle performance from the platform.)

Google's shift from Android to Chrome on TV



Their discovery that "most of the Google TV code was reused" for Chromecast, specifically that "the bootloader, kernel, init scripts, binaries, are all from the Google TV," lends credence to a report by the Wall Street Journal that described an Android TV prototype developed under Andy Rubin and shown in private at CES at the beginning of this year.

That project was reportedly abandoned this spring around the same time Rubin was demoted from running Google's Android platform. He was replaced by Sundar Pichai, who had previously worked on Google's Chrome browser.

Google's Chrome-related branding for the new device makes sense, now that Android is under the direction of Pichai rather than Rubin. But it also signals the beginning of something much larger, detailed here.
post #2 of 61
Aaaaannnd Nobody Cares.
post #3 of 61
With no Dalvik, how could you claim it is more Android than Chrome. Take away the VM and the ability to run Java (unless it just does not JIT) and it is a long long way form Android. In short, (Google TV - Android) is closer to (Chrome Google TV).
post #4 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven N. View Post

With no Dalvik, how could you claim it is more Android than Chrome. Take away the VM and the ability to run Java (unless it just does not JIT) and it is a long long way form Android. In short, (Google TV - Android) is closer to (Chrome Google TV).

 

Alternatively, with no Chrome, how could you call it ChromeOS?

 

The real point, however, is that its code is salvaged from the Android-based Google TV, rather than originating with the ChromeOS software that runs ChromeBooks.

post #5 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by THEMAC1NT0SH View Post

Aaaaannnd Nobody Cares.

 

I think you'll care about the follow up article. #cliffhanger

post #6 of 61
And the only one who really cares is you DED.
post #7 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

 

I think you'll care about the follow up article. #cliffhanger

 

Except the #cliff, if any, is more of a tiny curb the author will try to convince people is Mount Everest and try to come off as #smug

 

 

 

It's 35 bucks, lets me stream stuff I pull up on my computer, android phone, iPhone, iPad, or other tablet.  Sweet.

post #8 of 61
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Originally Posted by bleh1234 View Post

And the only one who really cares is you DED.

you mad bro?

 

Actually, I'm really enjoying reading the AppleInsider exclusive articles and editorials. Nice to see something unique and people not afraid to give their personal opinion. I look forward to more in this style. great work.


Edited by snova - 7/28/13 at 3:22pm
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post #9 of 61

I look forward to the ZOMG ZOMBIE BOTNET TVS article tomorrow.

 

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post #10 of 61
I had one on order%u2026 then realized I'm better off adding an additional Apple TV for just $60 more and getting 5x the device (at least).
post #11 of 61
I am horribly offended by the use of the words "Google," "Android" and "optimized" in the same sentence.

Obviously a typo.
post #12 of 61

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's article. I wonder if google will actually try and implement a chrome, cloud phone platform at some point. Seems like a terrible idea to me, but that certainly hasn't stopped google before.

   

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post #13 of 61
Yo
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatchyThePirate View Post

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's article. I wonder if google will actually try and implement a chrome, cloud phone platform at some point. Seems like a terrible idea to me, but that certainly hasn't stopped google before.

You mean something like this? 1smile.gif
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, my opinion, man.
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Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, my opinion, man.
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post #14 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by WonkoTheSane View Post

Yo
You mean something like this? 1smile.gif

That is funny.

I have postulated that the rumored iPhone 5C (if an actual product) may be a "cloud" phone.
post #15 of 61
It is not an iPhone 5C. With Apples getting into the kitchen that is obviously a designer butter dish. And yes Android is DalviK so this is not Android. Obviously Chromecast has that similarity to ChromeOS in that it delivers all its content via the web.
post #16 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by bleh1234 View Post

And the only one who really cares is you DED.

You can't prove DED and Corrections are the same person. Maybe Corrections knows DED personally. /s

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post #17 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by aBeliefSystem View Post

Android is DalviK so this is not Android

If Android is the stolen Java layer, what is Bionic (the stolen C layer) and below?

The article says it's similar to Google TV, rather than "Android" FYI. Which it undesputably is.

Undoubtably, the Google TV project, as a part of the Android platform, has been taken over and lobotomised by the Chrome guys and released as this single-use me-too product.

Maybe if you refuse to accept this is a sub-standard Google TV, it doesn't seem so much like a disappointingly lazy death toll for Android in the living room.

[Aside] Isn't it interesting how both Rubin and Sinofsky of Microsoft have essentially been fired despite no obvious changes in their brain-children since
post #18 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatchyThePirate View Post

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's article. I wonder if google will actually try and implement a chrome, cloud phone platform at some point. Seems like a terrible idea to me, but that certainly hasn't stopped google before.

I read a rumor last year that Google would abandon Android and go with Chrome OS.
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post #19 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by bleh1234 View Post

And the only one who really cares is you DED.

 

Just because you can't see any relevance, doesn't mean it isn't.  For instance, this thing is basically a hardware dongle that's representing itself as a Chrome browser.  What if the various media outlets in question decide to block it now that it can be hacked?  Then it will end up as "Google TV 2.0" and basically a worthless piece of junk (well … more worthless than it already is).  

 

It's hackability is also just plain interesting from a technological point of view. 

post #20 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

 

… It's 35 bucks, lets me stream stuff that I am able to pull up in the browser on my computer, android phone, iPhone, iPad, or other tablet.  ...

 

corrected it for you.  

 

I still don't get why people want this thing though.  You can get a second hand Apple TV for 50 bucks, it does what this thing only pretends to do, but does it better, and it does a whole load of other stuff as well.  

Apple TV is just a much better value.  

post #21 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

corrected it for you.  

I still don't get why people want this thing though.  You can get a second hand Apple TV for 50 bucks, it does what this thing only pretends to do, but does it better, and it does a whole load of other stuff as well.  
Apple TV is just a much better value.  

Does Apple TV do cross platform streaming? And please provide a link for a $50 Apple TV, because I can't find one and I'd like to purchase one.
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"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #22 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Just because you can't see any relevance, doesn't mean it isn't.  For instance, this thing is basically a hardware dongle that's representing itself as a Chrome browser.  What if the various media outlets in question decide to block it now that it can be hacked?  Then it will end up as "Google TV 2.0" and basically a worthless piece of junk (well … more worthless than it already is).  

It's hackability is also just plain interesting from a technological point of view.  

Obviously you're just a troll, but don't think we haven't noticed that you're making no sense and have no idea what you're talking about. 

Root access was obtained but nothing other than seeing it's code was what could be done.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #23 of 61
[After the slaughter of Google TV, a new competitor emerges: his deformed thing-in-a-person-skin half-brother cHrOmeCaaast]

[Droid 1] Eugh... *gulp*... Oh... All that's holy, what IS that thing...
[Droid 2] Why it's our new, mighty leader of course, three cheers! Hoorah!
[Droid 1] Ohhh... errr... three... what now... oh, I guess it has three... what ARE they!?
[Droid 2] Hip-hip!
[Droid 1] Haaaa... *vomit* Ho... ...yeughh... *shudder*
[Droid 2] Hip-hip!
[Droid 1] Hoo... ...ray?!?
[Droid 2] Hip-hip!
[Droid 1] Hooooraaaayyyy!!!

[exit]
post #24 of 61

amazing to see so many Chromecasts (~500 listings ) already for sale on ebay trying to cash in on the hype.

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post #25 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Does Apple TV do cross platform streaming? And please provide a link for a $50 Apple TV, because I can't find one and I'd like to purchase one.

cross platform streaming.  Yes.  Standalone, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Windows, Linux Desktop, Android.  Which would you like?

 Is that what you mean by being cross platform?  Or is the cross platform you mean the one where you have to change to Google's browser instead of using your normal browser? No requirement to switch use of your existing browser with Apple TV. Internet Explorer fans rejoice!


Edited by snova - 7/28/13 at 7:01pm
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post #26 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by snova View Post

cross platform streaming.  Yes.  Standalone, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Windows, Linux Desktop, Android.  Which would you like?
 Is that what you mean by being cross platform?  Or is the cross platform you mean the one where you have to change to Google's browser instead of using your normal browser? No requirement to switch use of your existing browser with Apple TV. Internet Explorer fans rejoice!

One can Airplay from all those? Or do you mean Plex or XBMC? Which also needs to be on the same wifi network.
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post #27 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I still don't get why people want this thing though.  

because people aways seem to get a rise out of anything they think is a great deal.  Its a greed thing. Even if they don't need it and it will just end up stockpiled in their garage. Looks what happens on Black Friday.  $250 laptops, $499 50" TVs, HP $99 Touchpads, $159 Kindle Fires.  They all end up suffering the same fate in the junk pile.   Only rich people can afford to make impulsive purchases on throw away junk out of greed. 

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post #28 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


One can Airplay from all those? Or do you mean Plex or XBMC? Which also needs to be on the same wifi network.

yes, I meant AirPlay.   WiFi or wired LAN. your choice.


Edited by snova - 7/28/13 at 7:32pm
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post #29 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by snova View Post

amazing to see so many Chromecasts (~500 listings ) already for sale on ebay trying to cash in on the hype.

I bought three and sold two on eBay. Free Chromecast and Netflix and I made a few bucks. 1smile.gif
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post #30 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by snova View Post

because people aways seem to get a rise out of anything they think is a great deal.  Its a greed thing. Even if they don't need it and it will just end up stockpiled in their garage. Looks what happens on Black Friday.  $250 laptops, $499 50" TVs, HP $99 Touchpads, $159 Kindle Fires.  They all end up suffering the same fate in the junk pile.   Only rich people can afford to make impulsive purchases on throw away junk out of greed. 

sounds like you have a personal experience on this.

post #31 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post


I bought three and sold two on eBay. Free Chromecast and Netflix and I made a few bucks. 1smile.gif

yes, its seems like some are making making $7-10 per unit (plus shipping) based on buy it now pricing.  Hope you did better than this for your trouble. 

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post #32 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by bleh1234 View Post

sounds like you have a personal experience on this.

yes, yes I do.  we were all young and stupid once. I'm sure you couldn't relate. right?

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post #33 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by snova View Post

yes, its seems like some are making making $7-10 per unit (plus shipping) based on buy it now pricing.  Hope you did better than this for your trouble. 

 

Sure did!

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post #34 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by DroidFTW View Post

 

Sure did!

got to hand it to you.. it sure is a creative way to scrap up enough money to be able to afford an Apple TV.  ;-P

but seriously, enjoy your Chromecast,  hope it works out for you in the long run.  Stuff like that never seems to work out for me. It seems like I have to agonize at paying a high price for a quality product.  Never have regretted those kind of purchases however. 

 

its not that I can't afford it, I am just very miserly. 


Edited by snova - 7/28/13 at 7:44pm
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post #35 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatchyThePirate View Post

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's article. I wonder if google will actually try and implement a chrome, cloud phone platform at some point. Seems like a terrible idea to me, but that certainly hasn't stopped google before.

ChromeOS on a TV is a pretty good idea.  I've always criticized the the ChromeOS model because I don't think it makes any sense for a mobile world.  I'm on record very early on in the app vs web applications war as saying web applications would lose out.  I'm going to take the opposite position with TVs.  TVs are not mobile and usually have good access to wifi.  There are hundreds of millions of dumb displays out there.  If you can upgrade a $1,000-$2,000 TVs to a modern operating system for $35, why wouldn't you do it?  ChromeOS is the perfect way to do it.  It will all start with streaming video content like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and the new Aereo TV service.  The user interface will be your phone or tablet.  Once everyone has their TV upgraded and their phone set up to control it, it will be a no brainer for developers to provide web apps. 

post #36 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimmyDax View Post

[After the slaughter of Google TV, a new competitor emerges: his deformed thing-in-a-person-skin half-brother cHrOmeCaaast]

[Droid 1] Eugh... *gulp*... Oh... All that's holy, what IS that thing...
[Droid 2] Why it's our new, mighty leader of course, three cheers! Hoorah!
[Droid 1] Ohhh... errr... three... what now... oh, I guess it has three... what ARE they!?
[Droid 2] Hip-hip!
[Droid 1] Haaaa... *vomit* Ho... ...yeughh... *shudder*
[Droid 2] Hip-hip!
[Droid 1] Hoo... ...ray?!?
[Droid 2] Hip-hip!
[Droid 1] Hooooraaaayyyy!!!

[exit]

I completely disagree that Chromecast is another Google TV.  The device doesn't play Android apps. Chromecast is a second attempt at the web applications model.  And unlike the first attempt (ultraportable laptops), I think this one has a really good chance of succeeding. It makes a lot of sense to pay $35 to upgrade a $2,000 TV to a modern computer.    

post #37 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

Alternatively, with no Chrome, how could you call it ChromeOS?

The real point, however, is that its code is salvaged from the Android-based Google TV, rather than originating with the ChromeOS software that runs ChromeBooks.
Given it is built around web streaming, it has much more Chrome than Android. Google TV was centered around Dalvik, I question how much code was salvaged from Google TV to build Chromecast. ChromeOS is more than the browser interface, it is also the secure boot and update aspect.
post #38 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Does Apple TV do cross platform streaming? And please provide a link for a $50 Apple TV, because I can't find one and I'd like to purchase one.

 

It's not cross platform.  It does web streaming.  Period.  Also, there are lots of reports already that it doesn't work, or doesn't work well, on iOS at all.  It basically works on Firefox and Chrome browsers and everything else is dodgy.  

 

You also have to figure in the fact that most web video is crap quality and full of advertisements as well.  Have fun streaming your 800x600 YouTube videos that have been cross-coverted from shit Windows video files.  

 

For a few bucks more, Apple TV has built in YouTube and built in Vimeo as well (Vimeo is like YouTube but in HD and for grownups).  Apple TV also does the same web streaming that Chromecast does, but also does Airplay, has a store, plays games, does mirroring, does Hockey and MLB (if you like that crap) Netflix, Anime stations, Flickr, Photostream, and can be hacked to provide a host of other services for free as well.  

 

Second hand Apple TV's do indeed go for 50 bucks as I said.  Only an idiot would buy something second hand and not get at least 50% off.  The only reason they are a bit hard to find, is that they are so popular, that people generally don't sell them a lot.  many people never put their old ones on eBay, they just attach them to other TVs around the house.  

 

If you like your Chromecast, keep it is my advice.  

I just think Apple TV is a better value, and there are numerous people that are smarter than either of us, saying the same thing on tech sites all over the web.  

post #39 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Just because you can't see any relevance, doesn't mean it isn't.  For instance, this thing is basically a hardware dongle that's representing itself as a Chrome browser.  What if the various media outlets in question decide to block it now that it can be hacked?  Then it will end up as "Google TV 2.0" and basically a worthless piece of junk (well … more worthless than it already is).  

 

It's hackability is also just plain interesting from a technological point of view. 

The content providers are going to be companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Aereo TV.  There is absolutely no chance that these companies will block it.  The reason Google TV failed is because it was a shitty product.  Everyone hates the complexity of a remote and Google TV made the remote situation worse, not better.  With Chromecast, Google solved that problem by using the iPhone/Android as the remote.  I just can't emphasize how significant this is.

 

Google also realized that competing with Apple on applications is just dumb.  Someone like me is NEVER EVER going to download a single shitty android app or touch anything that has to do with Android. Will I pay $35 to use my iPhone as a remote control to stream Netflix to my $2,000 TV. Absolutely.  And once I start using it to stream my movie content, there is a chance some web app developer might make another product that I might use. Web apps are very appropriate for a large screen TV because the internet connection is usually constant and fixed.

post #40 of 61

Google has a tiger the tail.  Google lost the web app vs standalone app in the smartphone and laptop markets.  However, TVs are different because they are fixed near a constant source of wifi.  Perfectly suited for web apps.  Chromecast is going to force Apple to open up the ATV to third party Apps.  Even then, I'm not sure Apple will impede Chromecast.  Since Chromcast works with iOS and it only costs $35 I can see most iPhone users buying one. I know I will. I have a second TV that needs a streaming service and I haven't gotten around to buying a second ATV.  Why shouldn't I just get a Chromecast? I can control it with my iPhone.  I can't control an ATV with my iPhone (at least not in the same convenient way Chromecast will let me control it).

 

Can't wait to see tomorrow's commentary.  Chromecast is a very big deal and anyone that owns shares in Apple (which I do) should hope that Apple takes this very seriously.  If Apple wants to have any chance of dominating the TV, they need to open up ATV to third party apps NOW, they need to make the iPhone the interface for ATV (and switch the video stream to the ATV to avoid draining the battery), and they need to lower the price to $50. 

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