Google has officially launched the second-generation Chromecast dongle that can connect to your TV via HDMI. New features include improved WiFi, Fast Play, Spotify, and a new design. Google is also launching a Chromecast Audio for speakers.
A new Google Chromecast
Google launched its first Chromecast over two years ago and has now sold more than 20 million units. Here is the new version of the popular HDMI dongle. It comes equipped with a range of new features but is still limited to 1080p HD.
Chromecast has a new design and you can choose from three colors; black, yellow and red. The HDMI cable now sit on a rubber extender and the actual unit has a magnet to attach it to the back of the TV.
The new design allows for improved WiFi connectivity. Chromecast now supports the ac WiFi standard that operates on the 5 GHz band. ac WiFi is faster, theoretically up to 433 Mb/s, and can transmit on several channels at once (MIMO).
A new feature named "Fast Play" will reduce the time it takes to establish a connection to the streaming service once you press “cast”. Netflix is already taking advantage of Fast Play, which works by pre-buffering on the Chromecast dongle. Pre-buffering starts as soon as you open the Netflix app on a phone or tablet. Google is promising to bring Fast Play support to all video apps.
A new app for Android and iOS devices will make it easier to discover new apps and services that support Chromecast. The app can also be used to search for content across different services.
A new home screen supports "feeds", which lets you customize content on the Chromecast when not using it. Feeds can integrate with for example social media or photos services.
Chromecast also has better support for games by using the phone as a game controller. Google demonstrated several games, including Angry Birds GO, WGT Golf og Driver Speedboat Paradise. Google Photos will also receive support for Chromecast on Android phones/tablets and iOS.
Chromecast Audio for speakers
Google is also launching a new Chromecast Audio, which can be connected to speakers and audio systems. It connects via a 3.5mm analog headphone jack. Once connected, you can stream music from your favorite music app to the speakers wirelessly.
Chromecast Audio will support Multiroom later this year, allowing you to connect play music over several speakers in your home at the same time. The new audio dongle works with iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Chromebook and Mac/Windows PCs.
For the first time, Spotify will be supported on Chromecast. Spotify has so far relied on its own "Spotify Connect" protocol to connect to speakers but it the two parties have finally come together. Google Photos (Android and iOS), Showtime, NFL Sunday Ticket, and SlingTV will support Chromecast. "High-quality" audio is supported, says Google. Chromecast Audio also supports audio mirroring from the Chrome browser or a Android device.
The new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio are available now 17 countries on Google Play. Both are available for $35 dollars, including 90 days of free music from Google Play and one free movie rental.
Dimensions: 51.9 x 51.9 x 13.49 mm (excluding cables and accessories) Power cable: 1.75 m Weight 39.1 g
Colors: Black Lemonade - Google Store exclusive Coral - Google Store exclusive
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2.4GHz/5Ghz)
Power: 5V, 1A power supply If you must use a different power supply than the one provided with your device, be sure to use a UL-listed power supply marked “LPS” or “Class 2”, with output rated 5Vdc, 1A
Ports & Connectors: HDMI Micro-USB
Supported Operating Systems: Android 4.1 and higher iOS 7.0 and higher Mac OS X 10.7 and higher Windows 7 and higher