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March 13, 2014

Pluralsight iOS app update, now with ChromeCast support!

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Our newest iOS player is now on the the iOS App Store and includes a first shot at ChromeCast support! Start playing any Pluralsight course and tap the cast button to select a local device to cast to.

Not familiar with ChromeCast? It’s a $35.00 dongle that you plug into an HDMI port on your TV so that you can “cast” video to it over a local wireless network. Check out this video that shows how it works with Netflix. And here’s a video of me casting a Pluralsight course to my TV this morning (sorry for the washed out TV).

It’s ironic that we got ChromeCast working in our iOS player first, but Google was quicker getting that SDK working. We’ll be adding this to our Android player in the future as well.

Note that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to use offline viewing with ChromeCast because when you “cast” you’re actually only sending the URL of a video to the ChromeCast device, which then streams it directly from the Internet. This has some distinct advantages over the way Apple’s AirPlay works. Apple has your phone stream the video from the Internet, and then pipes it over wireless to your Apple TV. Since ChromeCast independently streams the video from the Internet, in many apps you can switch away from the app on your phone once you start casting a video, and the video will continue to play (unlike with Apple TV).

Back to offline viewing. Because the ChromeCast expects a URL that it can stream from, you get no benefit from “casting” a previously cached course on your device – it’s still going to stream from the Internet. So the iOS app displays a brief notice if you try casting a course that you have downloaded for offline viewing just to let you know that the ChromeCast device is going to stream from the Internet (e.g. you won’t be able to cast if your Internet connection is down). Of course if your Internet connection is down, you won’t be watching Netflix or YouTube on your ChromeCast either!

While you can temporarily switch away from the Pluralsight app while casting a video, in order to move to the next video, you need to have the Pluralsight app in the foreground (because it needs to request the next URL in the course and send it to the ChromeCast device). In the future with some effort, we could have the little player app that we wrote for ChromeCast be smarter and do this automatically, but this first version is pretty simple.

One final note: Just like with Apple TV, variable speed isn’t supported on ChromeCast yet. Hopefully that’ll come in a future version. So changing the speed of the video won’t have any effect while you’re casting.

Have a ChromeCast? Give it a try! Don’t have one? It’s only $35, so you might want to check it out (last time I checked it’s not yet available outside the US, but stay tuned).

Enjoy!

About the Author

is a Culture Coach at Pluralsight. As a cofounder, Keith was the Chief Technology Officer for many years, building and hosting the website and all things IT. These days there's a whole team of folks taking care of the tech, and Keith is focusing more on company culture, which is one of the most important aspects of a fast-growing business.


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