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Chromecast’s home screen may get livelier with photos and weather

Currently, Chromecast users don’t have much of a choice about what they see on their home screen, but that could be changing soon if source code exposed by a Reddit user is any indication. First reported by Gigaom, the code indicates that the home screen could one day be adapted to show user photos and/or local weather information rather than the stock images users currently get. 

This kind of customization would bring the Chromecast dongle yet another step forward in its ongoing development. And if photos and weather are possible, why not other types of content? 

For those unfamiliar, the Chromecast is a “dongle” that plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port, drawing its power via a TV’s USB socket, or from a wall adapter. Once connected to a Wi-Fi network, the Chromecast appears as a “casting” option on Chrome Web browsers, and through supported apps on smartphones and tablets. Users find the content they want to view, then cast it to the Chromecast. From there, the device streams the information straight from the cloud, freeing the mobile device or PC’s resources, essentially turning them into remote controls. 

Presently, the Chromecast home screen can not be altered. The only workaround at the moment is a Chromecast-specific app called MyCastScreen, which allows users to compose a home screen with an Android device using various widgets and plugins. With the app, users can create Imgur gallery slideshows, display weather or traffic information, or choose a default website to appear in the frame. The user can then shut down their device while the Chromecast continues to show the “casted” screen. 

Since opening up its software developer kit (SDK) in February, the Chromecast has seen an influx in new app support, including a handful of popular apps like Vudu, Crackle, Rhapsody, and Napster. Still, the Chromecast lags behind in Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Apple TV in terms of mainstream app support. With a $35 price tag and growing support, the Chromecast remains a compelling product. Adding customization to the user-facing home screen will likely only bolster interest in the device.