Google not only announced a refreshed piece of Chromecast hardware with a new design, but also introduced an all-new piece of hardware with the Chromecast Audio. In addition to some hardware changes, Google made a number of changes on the software and functionality side of the Chromecast as well. One thing that did not change was pricing, as Google kept the price for both pieces of hardware at the same $35 it was last year. A lot was discussed in a short period of time, so let's take a few minutes to review what Google announced.
Google announced two new pieces of Chromecast hardware this year, one aimed at video and the other aimed at audio. Both pieces of hardware received an all-new design, which is a small flat circle. The regular Chromecast will have a small HDMI cable coming out of it, instead of a single piece like the previous model. For the video-focused Chromecast, Google improved the Wi-Fi performance by adding 802.11ac and 5GHz support, as well as three antennas to choose between so it will always receive the best signal from your router.
As for the Chromecast Audio, this new hardware will tie in with your existing speaker setup, allowing you to easily stream music from your Android smartphone or tablet. To tie in with your setup, the Chromecast Audio has a 3.5mm audio out, as well as RCA and optical outputs as well.\
New cast partnerships
Spotify is coming to Chromecast, starting now. Yes, you read that correctly. It was announced that Spotify will finally be adding support for Google's Chromecast, allowing you to easily stream music from your phone to other sources. Spotify will support both new pieces of Chromecast hardware, and will be able to recognize when other devices are using the service on the network to pick up from the same spot in their playlist.
New streaming features
In addition to refreshed hardware, Google announced some streaming additions for the Chromecast as well. Chromecast Fast Play is one of the new features, which aims to be "faster than live TV." How? Fast Play will allow content to cache in the background, with claims of being up to 80 percent faster. Developers will be able to access the new features, and it hopes to add content prediction sometime in 2016.
Google also announced Chromecast for Photos, which will let you cast images and gifs from your phone or tablet to the big screen. You will be able to view the images full screen, and the photo will stay on the screen until you select a new photo from the device. With this you can pick from local photos on your phone and tablet, or photos stored in the cloud. The feature will launch later this week for Android, and "very soon" for iOS.
New gaming features
Another of the Chromecast announcements was the ability to cast your games from your smartphone to your television. With this, you'll be able to use your smartphone as a game controller while playing games on a much bigger screen. The feature will work on both Android and iPhone games, and it will also support multiplayer gaming for up to four players on a single Chromecast.
New centralized Chromecast app
Previously, the Chromecast app was more of an administrative hub, with very limited functionality. This time around, Google has put the focus on content discovery, and making it easier for you to find things to watch. With the new app, you'll have a single place to view all of your content, and the app will only show content from other Chromecast-compatible apps already on your phone. Additionally, there will be a devices tab which will allow you to manage and control your Chromecasts remotely, including the play / pause functionality.
The new hardware is available now from the Google Store for just $35. If you are interested in either Chromecast, you can grab them from the link below.