Google surprised everyone at a press event where we were expecting the tech company to reveal what was already known about a new Nexus 7 and an Android update. But there was more to be unveiled in the form of the Chromecast.
Before announcing Chromecast, Google’s SVP and head of Android, Chrome and Google apps Sundar Pichai revealed that, every month, over 200bn videos are watched online across the globe. Pichai went on to illustrate the growth in online video, which is largely happening on tablets, laptops and smartphones, not on TV sets.
But the Chromecast could disrupt that and bring video back to the TV screen. This two-inch device can plug into the HDMI port of any TV set, connect to the household’s Wi-Fi and interact with all manner of devices – be they Windows, iOS, Android or Chrome – and stream video from the web direct to the TV.
The Chromecast houses a simplified version of Chrome OS and allows users full control from any paired device. Households that have a number of devices on different operating systems can even work together and content will sync on all platforms and devices.
Platforms like YouTube and Netflix will automatically recognise Chromecast for simplified pairing, as will Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music and Pandora. Other content – not just video – can be shared using the Chrome browser, though this feature is currently in beta mode. When projecting tabs from Chrome’s browser to the TV, this content is optimised for viewing, leaving behind the full desktop and displaying only the key content.
More apps are expected to come with Chromecast functionality included and interested developers can check out the Developer Preview of the Google Cast SDK, with libraries for Android, iOS and Chrome, to see how to connect theirs. Apparently, all it takes is a few modifications.
Over time, it’s expected that the Chromecast technology will be embedded in devices from Google’s partners but, for now, this extremely clever device will cost just US$35. It’s available in the US from today but expansion to other countries has been promised as quickly as possible.
UPDATE: Contrary to the above, Pandora will come with Chromecast functionality from today, but this feature is in development and said to be coming soon.