After introducing the Chromecast, a new video streaming device, Google wanted to showcase that the HDMI dongle could be used for more than simple video playback. Photowall for Chromecast was designed to allow users to create a real time, collaborative photo slideshow on their TV.
I needed to build several components to help create a functioning application. I was tasked with building a desktop site, mobile application, and laying the groundwork for a slideshow that would run on the Chromecast itself. It was a tall order given the tight timeline and fluctuating design.
In its simplest form, a photowall is created by a "host" who connects to their Chromecast and generates a unique "wall code". Then "guests" can connect to the photowall from their mobile device and upload their photos. During the upload process, guests can also caption their photos and add colorful doodles by drawing with their fingers.
I used the Cast API to communicate between the mobile devices and the Chromecast itself. At the time this application was created the API was still in non-public beta. This meant lots of bugs, inconsistencies and breaking changes that had to be dealt with. Through diligent testing and dissection of the mostly undocumented source code, I was able to successfully integrate the API.
Creating a browser-based mobile application that can manipulate photos was challenging. The high resolution of most camera phones, as well as limited system resources and the severely lacking HTML file manipulation API made it hard to replicate the fluidity of a "native" application. By writing tidy, bloat-free code (with plenty of workarounds for cross-browser inconsistencies) I was able to create friendly, seamless user experiences on both mobile and desktop devices.
The application was extremely well received. It showed the tech community that the Chromecast was capable of more than most thought was possible. Photowall for Chromecast was twice awarded "Site of the Day" from the FWA, and received positive writeups from many publications, including Fast Company, PC Magazine and Tech Crunch.