Chrome’s New Tab Page to Get Chromecast’s Backdrops, Complete with Weather and News

A few weeks ago I told you, folks, that Chrome’s New Tab Page (NTP) will get pictures from Chromecast’s “Backdrop” as background images.  Backdrop what you see when your Chromecast is ready, but not playing any content. Today, I found a code change request that talks about this in detail. Looks like Chrome’s New Tab Page will look exactly like Chromecast Backdrop.

The Code and “IMAX”

Looks like the internal code name for the backdrop is “IMAX”. The file name is:

“chrome/browser/search/background/ntp_background.proto” I had to be sure that this is not something related to Chromecast. Noticed the Chrome, browser and NTP background in the file path.

Here is the code:

The title says “Integration with IMAX.” There is no description, so I had to look inside the file, trying to read comments between those lines of codes.

// The primary action url for second screen interaction
optional string primary_second_screen_action_url = 10;

// optional WeatherInfo weather_info = 7 [deprecated=true];

// Set when topic_type == NEWSSTAND.
// optional NewsstandInfo newsstand_info = 8;

// Set when topic_type == GEO_IMAGE
// optional GeoPhotoInfo geo_photo_info = 9;

// Set when topic_type == CULTURAL_INSTITUTE.
// optional CulturalInstituteInfo cultural_institute_info = 11;

// Set when topic_type == PERSONAL_PHOTO
optional PersonalPhotoInfo personal_photo_info = 12;

/ Information related to a personal photo item.
// Next id: 5
message PersonalPhotoInfo {
// The owner of the photo (not album) e.g. “John Smith”.
optional string owner_name = 1;
optional string album_name = 2; // e.g. “Trip to US”.
// City, State, Country of where the photo was taken
optional string location = 3;
// date/time the photo was taken, milliseconds since epoch.
optional int64 timestamp_ms = 4;
}

// The source of the topic.
// Next field index is 23.
enum TopicSource {
// CuratedPhotosProducer:
CURATED = 1;
// WeatherTopicProducerModule:
DEPRECATED_CURRENT_LOCAL_WEATHER = 2;
DEPRECATED_TODAY_LOCAL_WEATHER = 3;
DEPRECATED_TOMORROW_LOCAL_WEATHER = 4;
// PersonalPhotosProducer:
PERSONAL_PHOTO = 5;
// NewsstandTopicProducerModule:
NEWSSTAND = 6;
// PersonalizedNewsTopicProducerModule:
PLAY_NEWSSTAND = 17;
// FeaturedPhotosProducerModule:
FEATURED_PHOTO = 7;
// GeoTopicProducerModule

You will see mentions of most of the Backdrop option you get in the Google Home app for Chromecast.

Try This Feature (Kind of)

I found this URL somewhere within the code. This loads the same default Chromecast Backdrop image, without any customization options. It shows current local time and weather for me.

https://clients5.google.com/cast/chromecast/home/

I have set this as my home page for now, while we wait for this feature to land in Chrome! If you are currently using a Chrome extension to customize your NTP, you will soon have a more attractive option built into Chrome.

Thoughts, comments?

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