What you need to know
- Google today announced the Chromecast with Google TV.
- Google TV is the company's own spin on Android TV, and it focuses heavily on content over apps.
- The new Chromecast is immediately available for $49.99 from select retailers.
Google has finally announced the Chromecast with Google TV at its Launch Night in event. Technically, the device has already gone on sale and received several deep-dives on social media in the leadup to the event, but Google's finally made it official.
First off, the hardware. As it's a Chromecast, we already knew what to expect. There's a small dongle that connects to your device, and Google will be shipping the first Chromecast remote alongside this. It's a small thing that comes with a D-pad and dedicated buttons for Assistant, YouTube, and Netflix. As is typical of Google's industrial design stylings, both the remote and the Chromecast itself have modern, minimal designs. They won't stick out like sore thumbs in your living room.
This is what Google calls the most powerful Chromecast yet, and it supports up to 4K HDR 60fps video and Dolby Vision.
More interesting is the software, Google is shipping this thing with its own spin on Android TV — Google TV. It's a version of the software that refocuses more on content over apps, and it's very evocative of competing smart tv platforms like the Amazon Fire TV. Unlike rumors indicated, Stadia won't be on board at launch — though it has been noted to work if sideloaded. Google says it'll be bringing it over in 2021, so you'll have to wait a little while for official support.
Regarding the new Google TV interface that ships on this device, Google's Shalini Govilpai explained:
We studied the different ways people discover media—from searching for a specific title to browsing by genre—and created an experience that helps you find what to watch. We also made improvements to Google's Knowledge Graph, which is part of how we better understand and organize your media into topics and genres, from movies about space travel to reality shows about cooking. You'll also see titles that are trending on Google Search, so you can always find something timely and relevant.
In other words, Google TV is Android TV, but built for the way people actually want to consume media on their TV sticks. There are still apps available, Google highlights over 6,500 of them, but they aren't the reason you're firing up this new Chromecast.
Taking this back to the remote, Google hasn't competed in the smart tv space in years since the Nexus Q. The new Google TV interface and the remote combined is a shot against the bow at something like the Amazon Fire TV Stick which costs a similar amount. Google has built Chromecasts that were powerful in the past, most recently the Chromecast Ultra. One could argue that the Chromecast even kickstarted the whole TV stick market to begin with. Google has had the pieces in the past, and this is the first time it's putting them together into a single cohesive product.
If you want Google TV right now, you're going to have to get this new Chromecast. It'll come to other Android TV partners in 2021 though, so a little patience will be rewarded. Otherwise, the Chromecast with Google TV will cost you $49.99, and it'll go on sale from today. It'll come in three colors, Snow, Sunrise and, Sky (or white, pink, and blue).