Google unveils new Chromecast to compete with Apple and Amazon
Staff Reporter | On 30, Sep 2015
Google has unveiled an updated Chromecast to compete with Apple and Amazon-shaped rivals.
Google’s cheap stick was first out of the gates in the new wave of small, affordable streaming media devices, allowing consumers to turn their dumb TVs into smart TVs with minimal set-up, using their devices to broadcast content to the stick through compatible apps. Since then, it has sold 20 million units.
With Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV boxes both emphasising voice search and gaming options, though, Google is bulking up its streamlined contender.
The new Chromecast – now available in black, coral and lemon colours – has filled out a bit, turning into a disc on a wire, although it still plugs into your telly’s HDMI port. Inside that larger kit is a more powerful WiFi receiver, but Google’s secret weapon remains in its customers’ hands: the hard work will be done by phones and tablets, not by the stick itself.
Indeed, Google’s major upgrade comes in the form of a new Chromecast app, which will introduce a way to find content from a range of apps from a single location – a handy all-in-one solution that rivals the cross-platform searches offered by Amazon, Roku and Apple. Part of that will also be the holy grail of voice search, also matching the other major players. (The app is available on Android starting today and will roll out to iOS over the coming weeks.)
Photos from Google Photos, Getty, Flickr, Facebook and others can now be used to display pictures on your TV screen, while more TV apps (mainly for the US market and focusing on live sports to rival Apple) are on the way to the device’s line-up as well. For multimedia fans, a new Chromecast Audio device has also been announced, allowing anyone on your WiFi network to cast audio from their phone or computer to any speakers – although Apple Music is, unsurprisingly, not supported.
The other major emphasis is on games, which promises to deliver better quality graphics, thanks to Chromecast’s unique off-device set-up.
“There’s a fundamental difference between the other models out there and what we’re doing,” the company’s vice president of Chromecast, Mario Queiroz, tells the Guardian. “Games require computing power, and the smartphone has superior computing power to any of the popular streaming boxes that are out there. It may be one or two generations more computing power.
As is always the case, though, the proof will be in the content available: Angry Birds Go!, WGT Golf, and Driver Speedboat Paradise are on the way, Google has announced, while current titles include Just Dance Now, Catch Phrase Blitz, and Scrabble Blitz.
Google’s other secret weapon? The price: the all-new Chromecast is on sale now with an RRP of just £30.