Google has today announced an update for their now two-year old video dongle, the Chromecast. Google has announced updated video dongle, as well as a product for audio only streaming called Chromecast Audio. Google has also announced a range of new software updates for the Chromecast including improved Backdrop features, and a ‘Fast Play’ function allowing for pre-loading data.
The new Chromecast dongle updates the existing dongle, which has now surpassed 20-million sales – more than any other device in this category. The new Chromecast has been redesigned with a modern look and industrial design. The new Chromecast includes an integrated HDMI cable which is compact and more convenient to unplug and take with you.
The small size on the updated Chromecast is small in size and designed to hide behind TV. The new Chromecast features long awaited improved Wi-Fi support in the new hardware featuring dual band 2.4/5GHz, with 802.11ac support. The new Chromecast has a new adaptive antenna system with the Wi-fi chip always using the best antenna and frequency with stronger wifi performance – this means less buffering and a superior experience overall.
The new Chromecast Audio is aimed at giving audio users a great audio streaming experience. The new Chromecast Audio takes your existing speakers and makes them smart. The tiny device plugs into existing speakers, with a 3.5mm input, but also supports RCA + optical as well and streams audio to the dongle from your device through wifi from Cast enabled apps.
The hardware in the Chromecast Audio dongle has a similar design to the new Chromecast, featuring a new circular shape with concentric groove in a salute to the vinyl technology. The new Chromecast Audio features the same adaptive antenna system for best wifi performance.
Chromecast Software updates
As well as new hardware, Google has announced a number of new software features for Chromecast, the updates will come through the updated Chromecast app which will be available for Android/iOS (sorry Windows fans).
The updated Chromecast app will see an update to the ‘What’s On’ tab, automatically showing content in apps installed on your phone. The Chromecast app will also show you which apps on your phone support Chromecast functionality, bringing user interaction with ‘Cast’ enabled apps to the fore.
Deep links into apps will now link directly to content in the apps. This deep linking allows for a new ‘Get Apps’ section in your Chromecast app, the app will now be able to tell you where to watch things – search ‘X-files’ to find the best place to watch your favourite show. Google is working with publishers to integrate this feature into their apps.
Google has also announced a new feature called ‘Fast Play’ which preloads the app as soon as the Chromecast is detected. The App can also pre- fetch video data to start playback quickly. This Fast Play will hopefully allow for a better Chromecast experience.
Google has also gone after gaming after announcing a number of new features at Google I/O back in May. They are introducing a new feature called Remote Display, which allows the game to render two screens allowing for a Main screen game + controls. Game developers can also use everything in the phone as a game controller. New featues also allow Multiplayer Chromecast support in Angry Birds Go, WGT Golf, Monopoly and more.
Backdrop will also be getting better support with new feeds from vendors such as Facebook, which will be able to be configured through the app when your Chromecast is displaying ‘Backdrop’, the new Backdrop feeds will also include support from sites like 500px.
The new app will allow for Guest Support – allowing friends without wifi access to cast to your speakers.
Last but not least – Spotify and Google have finally made friends with Chromecast + Chromecast Audio. Spotify will now support synchronised playlist support across accounts based on nearby Chromecast devices
The new Chromecast hardware – including the Chromecast Audio, will be available for $49 in Australia when it arrives. Google has announced that they will be available in 17 countries through the Google store, but hasn’t announced which countries as yet, we expect more information soon.