Some time ago, we wrote about how the folks over at GTVHacker managed to root the Google Chromecast. Shortly thereafter, the secure boot vulnerability was closed, and this root method no longer worked. For this reason, many users refuse to let new Chromecast units connect to the Internet before first rooting and disabling OTAs.
Naturally, if you have already connected your Chromecast and it has already updated its firmware, you cannot root the device at the moment. However, for those lucky enough to have a unit running the original shipping firmware, you now have a streamlined method of acquiring root thanks to XDA Forum Member tchebb and his USB image flashCast.
So what is flashCast, exactly? Well, as described by the developer:
FlashCast is a USB image that provides a standardized way to mod your Chromecast. Think of it like a recovery which runs off of a USB drive. No more struggling with the limitations of the GTVHacker image, which is hard to modify and can only flash the /system partition. FlashCast is based on shell scripts, so it you can use it to do anything you can do with a root shell. It also comes with a comprehensive suite of helper functions, so many tasks actually become much easier than they would be using a regular shell.
In other words, it’s an easy and standardized image that works analogously to a recovery. So what do you need to use this? As stated above, you first need a Chromecast with a vulnerable bootloader. In addition, you need the latest version of flashCast, a USB drive of at least 128 MB, and a powered micro USB OTG cable.
Once you have the required components, simply install flashCast to the USB drive with a low-level write using dd on Linux or Win32DiskImager on Windows. From there, use the special instructions to connect the device to the storage, keeping in mind the proper order.
To get started, head over to the original thread. Once again, this will only work with the original shipping firmware and will not work if your device has been updated. However, if you have a brand new, unused Chromecast, it’s practically begging to be flashCasted.
August 23, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
You can now play almost any video on your Google Chromecast. That and much more Chromecast stories are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about Google’s first party app updates and using Fling to view your local media on your Chromecast.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler released an unboxing of the Oppo Find Mirror (R819), and then he unboxed XDA:DevCon. Later, TK gave us an Android App Review of Floating Toucher. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
August 21, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
We’ve talked quite a bit about the Google Chromecast in the past few weeks. Ever since it was launched a little under a month ago, the little $35 media streamer has lived an exciting life. From gaining root to losing root and from alternate receivers to alternate content providers, there have certainly been more than a few twists and turns. We were even recently shown how to enable ADB on the device, so long as you were one of the lucky few to have obtained and kept root access before the root-killing OTA.
Now, there’s a new application by developer Leon Nicholls called Fling that runs on your desktop computer and sends many formats of local content to your Chromecast device. Fling is a Java application, which means that it will run on any computer that has JRE and the latest version of VLC (preferably 64-bit) installed. The app lists support for various media types (wmv, avi, mkv, mpg, mpeg, flv, 3gp, and ogm), with various transcoding parameters available within the configuration menu. The host computer’s instance of VLC is then used for the transcoding process.
Unfortunately for those who don’t yet have a physical Chromecast device, this seems to only work on hardware Chromecast devices rather than Android devices that have CheapCast installed. However, those who already have a device (yours truly just ordered his second a few hours ago) are in for a treat.
Best of all, Leon has made it open source, with all the relevant code available on Github. Head over to Leon Nicholls’s Google+ post to learn more. There, you’ll find links to the source code, which is available on his Github, as well as a download link for Fling itself. Be sure to leave your comments for the developer, as this tool just made Chromecast quite a bit better for quite a few people.
August 20, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
To say that the Google Chromecast has had its share of ups and downs would be an understatement. Not too long after its launch, we learned of a method to root the device, thanks to broken image signature verification. Not too long afterward, however, this hole was plugged and root access was removed on OTA-updated devices. In the time since, we’ve also seen an application that emulates Chromecast functionality on any Android device, as well as an app that reverse engineered the protocols to get around Google’s whitelist restrictions. However, here at XDA, we are power users. And power users want, among other things, ADB access.
Now thanks to XDA Senior Member death2all110, those lucky enough to have held onto root by using alternate system images can now easily access ADB with this guide. To get started, you take your rooted Chromecast and telnet into the device with PuTTY or any other telnet client. A few commands and a wget (to download adbd) later, and you’re ready to enable adbd. Next, you simply chmod the newly downloaded adbd to have the appropriate permissions, and then you execute it. Finally, you use adb connect [Chromecast Local IP Address] to connect to your Chromecast from your client computer.
The guide has lots of pictures and even a video walkthrough to make sure you don’t get stuck. Basically, it couldn’t be easier if you’re already rooted. Head over to the tutorial thread to get started.
August 18, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
One of the main downsides to the Google Chromecast is its inability to deal with a wide variety of content sources. After all, the device launched featuring official support for just Netflix, Google Movies, Google Music, and YouTube.
Sure, the Google Chromecast also allows for tab mirroring using Chrome and the Google Cast extension on a traditional computer. However, this wasn’t ideal for high resolution video due to various performance issues, and it still failed to provide a suitable solution for local content.
Thankfully, this is where Koushik Dutta of CyanogenMod and ClockworkMod fame comes in. After a couple of public demonstrations through his YouTube channel and Google+, Koush has now released a test APK for AirCast. His app enables you to send any local video from your device’s gallery app to your Chromecast. Furthermore, AirCast also enables you to send a video directly from Dropbox and Google Drive.
For those wondering why this was never released alongside the previous demos, this is because Koush was finally able to reverse engineer the Chromecast protocols and thus get around the developer whitelist restrictions imposed by Google. Unfortunately, the current build of AirCast is limited to only two days of functionality. However, a later build will released under the freemium model.
Love it or hate it, the Google Chromecast is an important device in Google’s continuing journey into the living room. Sure, it’s not quite as functional yet as other streaming options on the market, but the support will surely grow with time.
While Google’s diminutive streamer may not be as developer friendly as we would have liked, official support from large developers and content providers is sure to grow in due time. Until then, we must unfortunately rely on tab streaming via Google Cast to get our content fix on the big screen. As many have found, however, the experience is often far from perfect unless you have an exemplary local network connection. Making matters worse, there is little that you can configure in the Google Cast Chrome plugin to optimize your experience.
To get around the limitations in the plugin’s setup page, XDA Forum Member umer936 stumbled on a method to fine tune your Chromecast’s tab streaming parameters. By simply going to inspect element and removing display: none from the stylesheet, you can access a plethora of fine tuning options for the plugin’s tab sharing. The options present include minimum and maximum video bitrate, quantization, maximum frames per second, audio bitrate, and various debugging options
Head over to the guide thread to get started tweaking your Chromecast’s tab sharing experience. Once you’ve found the optimal tradeoff between performance and stream stability, be sure to share your findings with the community.
Five days ago, we covered a rather useful discovery by the fine folks over at GTV Hacker, where due to a rather convenient oversight in the device’s cryptography pathway, a to-be-flashed firmware’s return code was never checked after passing through the device’s image verification software. In other words, this meant that you could run your own firmware at will, and all you needed was a USB key, the appropriate firmware, and a powered USB OTG cable.
At the time of the previous article, I noted the very real possibility that a future OTA would likely break this root method. Unfortunately, it appears as if that day has (rather expediently) come with OTA build 12840. Given that the original security hole is one so basic as to lead us to believe that it was left in place intentionally, we can only assume that other forces such as content providers or potential partners are at play. After all, root access could in their minds potentially open the door to pirated content. However, at this time, that is nothing more than speculation by one rather paranoid editor.
What can (or should) you do about it? At the moment, it appears as if there’s not much to do. OTA updates are applied to the device automatically, without any user intervention. XDA Forum Member tchebb has created an information thread detailing the issue, along with citing the changes made to /bootloader/bootloader.c in the Chromecast source code that are responsible for the root method closure.
In addition to sharing the bad news, tchebb’s thread also includes two methods that could theoretically prevent the OTA from being applied. One method involves attempting to remove the OTA signing keys on the device, whereas the other replaces the device’s update_engine with an empty executable script. As explained by tchebb himself:
THE FOLLOWING METHODS ARE UNTESTED AND ARE NOT GUARANTEED TO WORK OR LEAVE YOUR CHROMECAST IN A WORKING STATE. PERFORM THEM AT YOUR OWN RISK.
After telnetting into your rooted Chromecast or otherwise obtaining a root shell, you can try these two possible methods
- Rename otacerts.zip to otacerts.zip.bak in /system/etc/security/. This may remove the OTA signing keys and cause the Chromecast to reject any OTAs. However, I do not know whether this file is actually used or whether is simply a remnant from Chromecast’s Android base.
- Replace /chrome/update_engine with an empty, executable, shell script (make sure to make a backup copy first). I am very unsure of this method, since it is simply going off the name of the update_engine binary. If update_engine happens to perform some task core to the system, doing this will leave your device in an unusable state. If this happens, simply re-rooting using GTVHacker’s USB image should restore your system to how it was.
However, there is a large inherent risk with applying either, and bricked devices are highly likely. Because of that, we don’t recommend that anyone, except perhaps hardware hackers named Adam and others like him, attempt this.
[Many thanks to all who sent this one in!]
August 2, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
If just having the latest Android 4.3 wasn’t a good enough reason to upgrade, Android 4.3 has TRIM support! That and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an announcement that CyanogenMod Team has realeased Focal from Project Nemesis and some forums were added for the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Huawei Ascend P6.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Kevin released a video showing how to root the New Nexus 7 (2013), and later he compared the Old Nexus 7 to the New Nexus 7. TK then showed us everything we needed to know about the new Google Chromecast. Also check out Jordan’s Nvidia Shield unboxing video and gameplay video. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
August 1, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Google’s press event caused the Internet great excitement. Besides the New Nexus 7 (2013), which was compared to the Old Nexus 7 and rooted here on XDA Developer TV, Google announced another exciting device: the Google Chromecast.
In this video, XDA Developer TV Producer TK takes a look at the Chromecast. TK shows how to set up the Chromecast device and then some examples of ‘casting’ an app to your telly through the Chromecast. TK even shows you how to do Word Processing and web browsing with the device, so check out this video.
July 29, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The just-released Chromecast device has a secure boot exploit and has been rooted. That and more are covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this week’s news is an article about the new Android 4.3 update process and news about taking photos with the proximity sensor on the Sony Xperia Z. Also, be sure to check out Jordan’s video on the Chromecast device.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this weekend on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce released a video talking about practical practices of developers. Later, he released a video getting Confessions from newly hired developers. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
The Google Chromecast is shaping up to be quite a popular device. Largely due to its price point, adoption of Google’s latest media streamer has been so high as to exhaust Google’s free Netflix promotion. As exciting as the new device is, it’s hard to disagree that the included feature set could be a bit better. However, as with all limited devices, it was only a matter of time before someone rooted it, and that’s exactly what the folks over at GTV Hacker have done.
So how does it work? You first must get your device into USB boot mode, which is accomplished by holding down the single button as the device powers on. Then you use a powered mini USB OTG cable to provide the device with a signed image at a specific address on the USB drive. This firmware is passed along to the device’s cryptography hardware to be verified. However, due to problems with the device’s image signature verification, return code is simply not checked. Thus, you are able to run your own code at will. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that this security hole could be closed with any update at any time, so it’s likely not to be available for too long.
So what can you do with this? Right now, not a whole lot. In fact, if you’re not thinking of developing for the device, we’d recommend not doing this due to the inherent risks. However, the groundwork has been laid for future developments that will build upon this and add more functionality to the admittedly spartan device. I mean after all, who wouldn’t want Miracast support on the Chromecast? Seems like a match made in heaven.
To learn more head over to the GTV Hacker Wiki and also read their coverage of the exploit. And when you’re ready to get in on the Chromecast fun yourself, be sure to head over to the newly created Google Chromecast forum.
July 25, 2013 By: Will Verduzco
If the release of Android 4.3 and the new Nexus 7 didn’t do quite enough for you, yesterday’s Google event also marked the release of Google’s new Chromecast. The diminutive media streamer will work with many apps to deliver seamless media streaming from services like Netflix and Pandora. It also can mirror tabs that you have open on any desktop instance of Chrome. And at just $35, it may well be quite the steal, but that depends largely on third-party development to support streaming to the device. To help spur things along, we’ve given it a home here on the XDA forums.
The Galaxy Tab 3 family is comprised of three variants of differing screen sizes: 7″, 8″, and 10.1″. The 7″ and 8″ are relatively similar to their predecessors. However, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, which now sports the speedy dual-core Intel Atom Z2560 processor running at 1.6 GHz. The 8″ and 10.1″ models sport a resolution of 1280×800, while the 7″ model runs at 1024×600.
Have you already ordered your Chromecast? Do any of the Galaxy Tab 3 variants make you excited? Is the Intel Atom in the 10.1 wasted on such a low density screen? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and make sure to visit the newly created forums to get in on the action: