The Chromecast has come a long way since its inception, and it is now much more than just a way to mirror a browser tab to your TV. In fact, most of the ways you can use a Chromecast today have little or nothing to with Chrome itself, and run exclusively on Google's underlying Cast technology. Google is well aware of this drift away from Chrome, which is why it will soon be updating the Android and iOS Chromecast apps to reflect the change: later this week, the Chromecast app will change its name to Google Cast.
The rebranding of the Chromecast app also aims to make it clear that the app is no longer just a controller for either Chromecast dongle (which will retain its name), but that Google Cast is now natively supported across a wide range of devices, from TVs to displays to speakers. Read More
Sticking a Chromecast dongle is one of the cheapest ways to teach a dumb TV how to stream your favorite content. The downside is that Google's little media stick is heavily tied into the company's ecosystem. If your Android device lacks Google Play Services, you're not casting.
Here in the States, only a minority of Android devices have this issue. The majority of them are Amazon Fire tablets, with a few belonging to folks who either try to avoid or can't install Google Play Services for one reason or another. Then there are all those Chinese phones and tablets that get apps from alternative app stores. Read More
You can cast webpages from your computer to your Chromecast, but it requires installing a dedicated extension. As it turns out, Chrome's developers are working on cutting out this requirement. In the future, you may be able to cast content without going through any additional setup on your end. Read More
Last month Chromecast Audio gained the ability to sync audio playback across multiple devices and multiple rooms. This made the little circular music puck a cheaper alternative to Sonos, a way to fill your home with sound using speakers you already have for an additional $35 per Chromecast.
Plugging in the little dongle is hardly a difficult task, but it's still less sightly than having the functionality built-in. Throughout this year, B&O Play, Harman Kardon, Onkyo, Philips, Pioneer, and Raumfeld will all join Sony and LG in producing Google Cast-enabled speakers. As they roll out, Google will introduce the ability to sync playback across multiple speakers and rooms using them as well, just as you already can with Chromecast Audio. Read More
Google is busy this week updating most of its apps before the holidays and one update we were anticipating is Chrome Beta 48. The Chromium Blog had announced the update last week but we didn't see it on the Play Store until today.
So what does Beta 48 bring? A few interesting additions. Developers can now use the Presentation API to present to Google Cast devices, making it possible to send sites and their content to your Chromecast devices right from your mobile browser. The site notifications that were introduced with version 42 are getting an interesting update with actionable buttons so developers can add custom options that are easy to accomplish from the notification pop-up. Read More
Digitally Imported Radio takes music and digitally imports it into your mobile device of choice. It's more practical than toting around analog media. Take your phone for example. You don't want to try sticking non-digital stuff in that.
With the newest version, you can take that digitally imported music and send it to your TV thanks to Google Cast support. Whether you're using an old Chromecast, a new one, or a set-top box with Android TV. Read More
Google Photos may have started as a part of Google+, but since splitting into a standalone product, it has to move quickly to introduce new features and improvements to keep users engaged. The latest update to v1.5 didn't bring any visible changes to the app, but it does include evidence of some interesting changes we can look forward to in upcoming releases. Read More
The newest version of SoundCloud, which rolled out in the past week, has added a way to get independently created music streaming through your television sets. Now when you fire up the app, Chromecast-owning users will see the familiar icon located in the action bar. Or it will appear in the bottom left-hand corner if music is already playing. Read More
Most of the app updates this week were relatively quiet, with the notable exception of Play Music with its new ad-supported radio feature. That doesn't have to mean some of the updates don't have something new to offer. The Google app (formerly "Search") was bumped up to v4.8 yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have any noticeable changes right now. However, a look under the hood reveals some pretty interesting features on the horizon.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. There is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature discovered in a teardown.
Sony's decision to drop the Walkman brand from its music app left people strangely upset, but maybe this will cool some hot heads. The latest update of the beta music app adds Google Cast support. It's "experimental," but it's better than nothing. Read More