While there were a number of exciting announcements today (really confirmations) about Android 4.3 and the Nexus 7, one piece of gear actually took me by surprise. Google is making another push into our living rooms.
Chromecast is a $35 HDMI dongle, about the size of flash memory drive, which connects any TV to the web using a scaled down version of Chrome OS. It’s controlled by iOS or Android apps. For example, search for a video on Youtube, and press a Cast button to send it to your TV. Chromecast will see that signal, turn your TV on, switch it to the correct input, then stream the video. We also saw a demonstration of a new Netflix app where control of what was streaming was seamlessly passed between a Nexus 7 and an iPhone. No surprise that Google Play Movies & TV will support this control as well.
Chromecast will also support Chrome browser tab sharing. If you’re looking at something on your laptop, you can send the tab to your TV. This functionality is currently in BETA, but already seems to be working on Chromebook Pixel, Windows 8, and OSX Chrome browsers.
Lastly, this same streaming is being added to music apps like Google Play Music and Pandora, as it’s likely that the best speakers in your home are connected to your TV.
This appears to be a slightly more robust solution than some of the DLNA apps I’ve seen. Chromecast is actually pulling from the web on its own, so your phone or tablet doesn’t get tied up. We’ve seen pushes into this kind of streaming before using devices like game consoles, but it looks like Google wants more control over the whole experience. Plus, people who order early will also receive three free months of Netflix streaming. Not bad.
It would appear Google TV and Nexus Q type solutions are dead now?
Chromecast will be available for sale today, and orders placed today should ship by August 2nd.
Chromecast on Google Play
Chromecast on Amazon (Prime Free Shipping)