Android users have enjoyed the ability to cast media from their phones using Google Cast and Chromecast products and apps since 2013, and now Amazon is adding a new feature for it's Echo speakers called Alexa Cast.
Currently exclusive to Amazon Music, the new feature lets you cast music to your Echo speakers and control everything from your smartphone.
How does it stack up against Google Cast? Let's dive in!
Amazon playing catch up
Alexa Cast is very limited at the moment, but it's a big step for Amazon as it catches up to its competition. Both Google and Apple have had media casting technology built into it's own media streaming apps and services for several years now. Amazon seemed to follow a different philosophy, focusing first on building out a vast collection of hardware and focusing on Alexa as a platform for developers — and Amazon has enjoyed such great support from third-party app developers with its Alexa Skills collection to the point that the lack of casting functionality a mostly a moot point.
Still, in its current state Alexa Cast is a good feature confined to one app. It works really well but only if you want to use Amazon Music. In that regard, Alexa Cast is essentially the start of Amazon bridging a crucial gap between its own Echo products and Amazon Prime streaming services.
How does it compare to Google Cast?
At this point, it's unfair to compare Alexa Cast to Google Cast outside of its core functionality. There are so many ways to use Google's casting technologies to stream content from your phone or computer to your TV or Google Home speakers, whereas Alexa Cast is currently limited to Amazon Music app and Echo speakers.
In terms actually using Alexa Cast, it's as easy and quick to use as you'd imagine and if you've ever used a Chromecast before you'll be right at home. As long as you're logged into your Amazon account and have at least one Echo speaker set up in your house you can cast music from Amazon's streaming service: just tap on the Casting icon in the app, pick the speaker, and your music starts playing. You'll also see any nearby Chromecast targets appear, albeit with a different icon, which allows you to cast Amazon Music to Google's cast-enabled devices, too
What's more exciting is to imagine what's to come when Amazon expands the functionality of Alexa cast other media to devices such as the Echo Show and Fire TV. Until those features emerge, Alexa Cast for Amazon Music is a good starting point for Amazon to build upon.
A good excuse to try out the Amazon Music app
If you're a Prime subscriber with Echo speakers and you've never checked out Amazon Music, this might be the excuse you've been waiting for. Given how well Alexa Cast works at launch, you just might decide to cancel a redundant subscription and rely on Amazon to supply your tunes.
As a Prime subscriber who primarily uses Spotify for my music, it was my first time using Amazon's music streaming service and I found the app itself to be well designed and quite functional. But even as a Prime subscriber who has already technically paid for the service, I still won't be switching over to Amazon Music any time soon.
What's your take?
Have you tried out Alexa Cast yet? Is this a long overdue feature you've been waiting for? Let us know in the comments!
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