Google's latest iteration of the Chromecast isn't really a Chromecast, at least in the sense of the original design. It's a tiny hockey puck dongle running a full version of the Android TV operating system (with the Google TV interface on top of it). It's a very cool, compact little piece of technology, but it looks like Google's efforts to keep the hardware small and cheap are creating some unforeseen issues.
Every so often, a mysterious new device passes through the FCC that piques our attention. Sometimes the listing outright says what we're looking at, even giving us information on unannounced phones. Other times — such as today — the gadget remains an enigma. A new device from Google has made its way through the FCC, but only time will tell what it truly is.
When you first turn on the new Chromecast with Google TV, you're put through an extremely simple setup process: choose your language, connect to Wi-Fi, log in to Google, select your default streaming apps. There's not much to it, but just in case Google wants to change things around, the tool is now on the Play Store.
The Chromecast with Google TV interface has mostly been lauded as an improvement over Android TV, but there are still some things missing from it. Until now, for example, it's not been possible to hide shows from the 'Continue watching' section of the homescreen, but that looks set to change. As Android TV continues to pick up Google TV features, at least this one important thing is going the other way.
Google Photos isn't available on Android TV, and for good reason. As long as you can cast any photo or video from your phone to your TV, you don't really need the full app to be installed on the latter. However, there are a few reasons why you might want to get the proper Photos app installed and for that, we have this tutorial. It's a very convoluted process, especially if you own a Chromecast with Google TV (but much less so if you own an NVIDIA Shield), and you're better off not wasting your time with it unless you really need it.
Great excitement accompanied the launch of Chromecast with Google TV, much of it around the new interface and what looked to be a much more robust recommendations system. The watchlist syncs with your Google account and, in theory, the For you screen should show you closely-matched content based on your search history, likes, and past viewing. There's even a screen where you can train it to know your taste better, but it's completely borked right now.
YouTube TV isn't nearly as affordable as it used to be, and its new 4K Plus plan adds another surcharge onto your plan. If you're looking to get a little more bang for your buck, Google is giving away free streaming dongles, including its newest Chromecast with Google TV device, to current subscribers.
If you've owned a Chromecast with Google TV since last fall's launch, your long wait for Stadia is nearly over. Despite having been on the market for nearly a year and a half now, Stadia still isn't officially playable on Android TV — but that's changing, and soon. Earlier this month, Google announced that there'd be an official Stadia client up and running on Android TV on June 23rd, but if you're really impatient, you can get the app pre-installed on your device right now.