Google announced a redesign of the Chromecast yesterday, enhancing the affordable streaming device and giving you another option for streaming music all under the same $35 price tag of the 2013 version. The move hoists Google back up to meet with its competitors, like Apple TV and Amazon’s new Fire TV, who began outshining the Chromecast early in its career. Despite this, Google claims to have sold more than 20 million of the HDMI dongles since their initial release, making this quite a smart and timely upgrade.
The most noticeable difference is the device’s appearance. The company ditched the USB stick design for a circular shell to house the new streaming technology it needs inside, maintaining that it will take up less room and be easier to plug in thanks to its new built-in flat HDMI cable. It’s also offered in three different colours: black, ‘coral’ (red), and ‘lemonade’ (yellow), although one can’t help but question the point of this since the device will be behind your TV anyway.
The new Chromecast, much like it’s previous version, streams content via WiFi from your phone, tablet, or PC. Except now, the device contains three WiFi antennas that will support the newer dual-band WiFi 802.11ac version, providing a “more robust, high quality streaming experience for less buffering than you would have found previously with the Chromecast”, according to Dan Saunders, Google’s head of Chromecast for northern Europe. The user is also able to stream content directly from apps now, and the new design can even pre-load media that it thinks you may like. For example, Netflix might start loading up the player and buffering the video for a movie or TV show that it found based on recommends.
Chromecast can also turn your smartphone into a game console that streams to your TV screen. Similar to Apple TV’s new function, the device allows you to send a multiplayer app to your TV to play with a friend over WiFi.
The Chromecast app itself was upgraded as well. Instead of simply turning your phone into a remote, it becomes a content hub of sorts, giving you the ability to universally search the web for content that’s recommended for you and already Cast-enabled on any service.
On top of all this, Google also revealed Chromecast Audio, another dongle that can effectively turn any speaker into a wireless sound system simply by plugging it into the AUX or optical port. It can stream content from a wide range of devices (just like the Chromecast), and it can stream music from numerous music streaming services, including Spotify and, of course, Google Play. Plus, it doesn’t get interrupted if your phone receives a message or notification, which alone makes it miles better than Bluetooth streaming.
Both new devices are available on the Google Store now, and both are only $35. Compare that to any of its streaming competitors (Amazon Fire TV: $99, Apple TV: $139 or $199, Xbox One: $349, Roku Streaming Stick: $49) and Google’s impending conquest on the technology front will become apparent – if it wasn’t already.