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Firefox gets preliminary support for casting to Chromecast

Aug 20, 2014 — by Rick Lehrbaum 8,512 views

Mozilla is in the process of adding the ability to “cast” videos from Firefox to Chromecast devices, and you can try it now if you have the right hardware.

As announced in a post on Google+ post by Mozilla developer Lucas Rocha, “Chromecast support is now enabled in Firefox for Android’s Nightly build.”

To check this out, I downloaded the latest Firefox Nightly, installed it on my Nexus 10, and tested it with my Chromecast plugged into an HDTV. It worked… although, it has some rough edges right now.


While Firefox Nightly’s casting function is clearly preliminary, and the process had some glitches, I was able to stream the videos successfully from the Video Casting Test page to the Chromecast device.

Casting Mozilla’s test video to my Chromecast, from the Firefox Nightly on my Nexus 10
(click images to enlarge)

Casting to other devices

The media-casting protocol used by Chromecast is implemented with “DIAL” (DIscovery And Launch), which is beginning to be supported by a number of streaming device manufacturers. DIAL, a trademark of Netflix, is described as “a simple protocol that second-screen devices can use to discover and launch apps on first-screen devices.”

Basically, DIAL implements a combination of UPnP, SDP, and HTTP protocols, and is intended to allow tablets and smartphones to cast content to smart TVs, Blu-ray players, and set-top-boxes without the casting devices needing to be paired with the target devices. Roku, for one, has incorporated DIAL support into its HDMI-stick media player (pictured on the right). Additionally, I recently noticed that my Roku 2 media player box had begun showing up as a “Cast to Device” target on my Android tablets and smartphone.

If you want to try casting to your TV and don’t have a Chromecast — but do have an Android device with HDMI output — you can try installing a free Android app that offers Chromecast-like capabilities on the device with the HDMI port. The app, called “CheapCast,” is available on Google Play, and it also has a home at this XDA-Developers thread.

Firefox Nightly shows CheapCast as a casting target, but fails to cast
(click images to enlarge)

As seen in the screenshots above, CheapCast on my ProBox2 EX, labeled “PB2cast,” shows up as a casting target in the Firefox Nightly. However, the browser currently crashes when I attempt to cast any of the videos at the Video Casting Test Page to CheapCast on the ProBox2 EX. But given the highly preliminary nature of the Firefox Nightly’s casting function at this time, that comes as no surprise.

On the other hand, I’ve had good results casting videos from the Android YouTube app on my Nexus 10 to CheapCast on the ProBox2 EX.

Further information

You can download the apk for the latest Firefox Nightly build here. Then, after sideloading the Firefox Nightly apk, open up the resulting “Nightly” app on your phone or tablet and head over to Mozilla’s Video Casting Test page. Of course, to try out Firefox’s new casting function, you’ll need a Chromecast device.

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5 responses to “Firefox gets preliminary support for casting to Chromecast”

  1. jelabarre says:

    CheapCast was pulled from the Play Store back in *April*. I for one would love to have the ability to use my GoogleTV device as a Chromecast as well, but I don’t see Google pushing that (in fact, I suspect AndroidTV will turn out to be completely incompatible with GoogleTV, even if it is supposedly a “rebranding”)

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