Google has announced a new device named Chromecast, which will allow users to easily stream content to their television using a range of supported mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.
In the US, Chromecast goes for $35 and is already available online through Google Play, Amazon.com, and Bestbuy.com. It will hit US retail at Best Buy on 28 July 2013. US customers will be further enticed by an offer of three months of free Netflix.
The Chromecast is a small dongle that connects to a TV through HDMI and is powered over USB; ostensibly this means it will work on any HDMI-bearing screen with USB power nearby.
It runs a simplified version of the Chrome OS and connects to other devices using Wi-Fi. Both video and music content will be supported; in the case of music, album art is displayed when playing.
Chromecast is integrated into mobile device apps, and pressing the Chromecast button in that app will send the content to the television screen.
The broadcasting device can be used to control the TV content; play, pause, volume, etc. This does not render the device unusable, as users can still multitask while content is played on their TV.
Chromecast won’t be limited to apps on Android devices and will be cross-platform compatible; Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Chrome for Mac and Windows are supported with more to come. Google demonstrated this by playing content through the iOS Netflix app.
Currently it works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music, with more support coming soon for products such as Apple’s Pandora.
On the desktop PC side, Chromecast is integrated into the YouTube web player. Google demonstrated the familiar YouTube video player with a menu titled “play on” with options such as “My computer”, “Living room”, “Bedroom”. The options suggest that multiple Chromecast devices will be supported in a single environment.
An interesting beta feature was shown, in which any web content can be sent to the Chromecast-connected screen. Google’s Chrome browser was used for the demonstration, showing only the window content and not the Chrome UI.
Developers will be interested to note that Chromecast integrates into existing apps using the Google Cast SDK – no new app builds required. The dev SDK preview will launch today (24 July 2013).