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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.

image


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.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    Aaaaannnd Nobody Cares.
  • Reply 2 of 60
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,124member
    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).
  • Reply 3 of 60
    correctionscorrections Posts: 1,386member

    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.

  • Reply 4 of 60
    correctionscorrections Posts: 1,386member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by THEMAC1NT0SH View Post



    Aaaaannnd Nobody Cares.


     


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

  • Reply 5 of 60
    bleh1234bleh1234 Posts: 146member
    And the only one who really cares is you DED.
  • Reply 6 of 60
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    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.

  • Reply 7 of 60
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member

    Quote:

    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.

  • Reply 8 of 60
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member


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


     


  • Reply 9 of 60
    johnljohnl Posts: 9member
    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).
  • Reply 10 of 60
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    I am horribly offended by the use of the words "Google," "Android" and "optimized" in the same sentence.

    Obviously a typo.
  • Reply 11 of 60


    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.

  • Reply 12 of 60
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,397member
    Yo
    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? :)
  • Reply 13 of 60
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    Yo
    You mean something like this? :)

    That is funny.

    I have postulated that the rumored iPhone 5C (if an actual product) may be a "cloud" phone.
  • Reply 14 of 60
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 60
    bleh1234 wrote: »
    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
  • Reply 16 of 60
    timmydaxtimmydax Posts: 284member
    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
  • Reply 17 of 60
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 60
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    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. 

  • Reply 19 of 60
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    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.  

  • Reply 20 of 60
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,985member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    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.
Sign In or Register to comment.