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Here's what you need to know about the new Chromecasts

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.

New hardware

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.\

  • First look at Chromecast Audio
  • First look at the new Chromecast
  • Google announces new Chromecast with improved Wi-Fi support
  • Chromecast Audio is the new music streaming addition from Google

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.

  • Spotify is coming to Chromecast later today

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.

  • You'll soon watch Chromecast content even faster with Fast Play
  • Chromecast for Photos gives your images some time on the big screen

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.

  • Chromecast Game Casting lets you stream games to your TV

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.

  • Chromecast app puts the focus on content discovery

Availability

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.

Jared started off writing about mobile phones back when BlackBerry ruled the market, and Windows Mobile was kinda cool. Now, with a family, mortgage and other responsibilities he has no choice but to look for the best deals, and he's here to share them with you.
67 Comments
  • No 4k support...am I correct?
  • No there isn't a 4k in the play store yet though the others are available. Hope it's here soon.
  • You are correct. 1080p.
  • 4k might only show up on android tv
  • But where is that new Nexus Player?
  • Will the new gaming and fast play features be available for the old Chromecast? That's all I want to know. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You're not alone.
  • If the hardware supports it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • But does it? That's what I want to know. Google said nothing on stage that I noticed, and none of the articles say so either. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Looks like the new Chromecast app is up.
  • I got one in black for me. My first Chromecast.
  • Got one to make it my 4th, if works as advertised, I'll regift my other 3 and load up with Gen 2s
  • I'm in the same boat with 3 originals. That's a good idea!
  • How about PC streaming? :(((
  • Existing Chromecast has done that since day 1. Posted via the Android Central App
  • i know but as far as I remember it wasnt silky smooth. I guess with the improved antennas it should be smoother. That is what I meant.
  • I would imagine the new WiFi tech and new antennas should improve that, yes. We'll have to see. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, the 2nd gen had a pretty horrible delay, certainly far too much to do anything like play games.
  • Forgot to mention the upcoming music sync that is coming to Chromecast Audio in a future update. Whole-house music streaming here I come!
  • I really hope they don't fu- er, Google this up and delay its release for 6 months. This is the feature I've been waiting for!
  • Hopefully the Ethernet adapter I bought last month works with the new Chromecast. I don't see why not though. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm a big Chromecast user. I have three in my house with one of the new ones on its way. I'm not sure if the audio version is more useful than simply buying a cheap Bluetooth receiver with 1/8" out. You can even get ones with built-in rechargeable batteries so there's no need to string USB cords for power. For instance, both of our cars have Antec Smartbeans connected to the AUX ports of our car stereos. If we were to use Chromecast Audio for this purpose we'd have to find a way to power it via USB. It also works for all device audio, including Maps guidance not just the one specific app you are casting at the moment. The only way I could see the Chromecast audio supplanting a Bluetooth solution is if the audio quality is demonstrably better. That remains to be seen. EDIT: Before someone mentions price note that I bought my Smartbeans on sale at Fry's for $10. They are currently $30 on Amazon. At that price the Chromecast seems a better deal considering the sophistication of the solution.
  • Range is the issue for me. My wifi network with an extender router goes all over the house and the back yard. I'm pushing one zone in the living room and outside and another zone in the bedroom. Much farther coverage than bluetooth will allow.
  • The new one does 5Mhz too so that'll help.
  • 5Ghz has a shorter range than 2.4Ghz though faster speed.
  • Very true. I have my Asus router pushing 5ghz to my netgear extender router. It pushes the signal at 2.4ghz for maximum range. I still get an average of 20mg exchange. Works for me. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They're also aimed at different purposes. The Chromecast requires wifi, the smartbean is bluetooth. The Chromecast allows you to take an app, throw the audio over to the chromecast, and walk away. Bluetooth requires proximity. It's a bit of an apples and oranges comparison. Both are fruit... but yeah.
  • I would say they aren't "aimed at different purposes". They both provide a way to wirelessly transmit the audio from your phone to a device or speaker. They both output a standard 1/8" jack and thus would be compatible with the same speakers or devices. Distance is a plus but I can't think of a situation where I wanted to play music on a device but needed my phone to be 35+ feet away from said device.
  • I live in a 1000 sq/ft condo, with a bluetooth soundbar, which is located centrally. Walking into the kitchen, it's not uncommon for the audio to start to skip out. I see what you're saying, but they are meant for different purposes :)
  • We'll have to agree to disagree. I've had no issues with Bluetooth range with my G4. In fact, there have been several times where I get home from work, get a phone call and try to answer it only to find that I'm still connected to my Bluetooth speaker in my car in the driveway probably forty feet away and through several walls. My house is two stories and about 2500 square feet.
  • Bluetooth isn't optimal for audio, as even the best current solution has significantly more compression than 128Kbps MP3s. This has the potential to be only limited by the DAC when it comes to audio quality. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah. That's why I included this: "The only way I could see the Chromecast audio supplanting a Bluetooth solution is if the audio quality is demonstrably better." Also, with A2DP and aptX Bluetooth audio has come a long way. It's way better than 128Kbps MP3.
  • OK, we get it - you're a Bluetooth audio fan, you're in "wait and see" mode on Chromecast Audio. Geez, agree to disagree already, won't you? You're starting to come off slightly troll-ish repeatedly commenting on an article that's HIGHLIGHTING the BRAND NEW, AS YET UNREVIEWED Chromecast Audio technology. #LetItGoDude
  • Calm your jets, kiddo. I'm not a Bluetooth fanboy. I'm just questioning how Chromecast Audio will improve on existing Bluetooth products. It's a valid question.
  • There's a "H-U-G-H" (said in best Trump voice) difference between Chromecast Audio and Bluetooth streaming. With BT, you are tying up two devices. You will need to use the phone, tablet, Chromebook, laptop, etc. that is acting as the host for the media and then the phone, tablet, Chromebook, laptop, etc, will then send the audio via BT to the BT capable device (stereo, portable speakers, etc.). Then you also have transmission distance from transmitter to receiver. With Google Cast and Chromecast Audio, your device is retrieving the data from the Internet, just like a Chromecast OG or Chromecast 2 and it won't tie up the tablet, phone, Chromebook, laptop, etc. and suck battery on the phone, tablet...
  • I know how Chromecasts work. I have three of them. I know the advantage of initiating the content on the portable device and having the Chromecast take over with the device as a controller as needed. However, it's not a "H-U-G-H" (Hugh Laurie? Hugh Jackman?) advantage in the audio realm. You still have to get power to the Chromecast audio device which involves a USB cable. That's a "H-U-G-H" disadvantage to me, considering it's a wireless device. In fact, there are going to be many scenarios where Chromecast audio will be very inconvenient. Imagine you take a portable rechargeable speaker to the beach. It has one of those ubiquitous Apple 30-pin docks and a 1/8" jack but no USB port. You could use a regargeable Bluetooth receiver, like the aforementioned Smartbean, or you can lug along a USB power pack just to power your Chromecast Audio. I know which one I'd choose. I can see the Chromecast audio working great connected to fixed speakers or amps that have an available USB port to power it. In portable applications it's not going to be very useful.
  • I'd like to blame "H-U-G-H" on autocorrect, but it was all me. Although, I suppose there are a few huge people named "Hugh." Your point is very valid, regarding portability. I am going to be using my Chromecast Audio on an in-home system. I do own a JBL charge. I wonder if I can run the Chromecast Audio and listen to the JBL Charge.
  • The Chromecast Audio will play much higher bitrate music, and it will also not be re-digitized for streaming through Bluetooth. Also, you can hear the difference between music played through Bluetooth and via a cable. A2DP just isn't that great. Apt-X has a noticeable difference as well.
  • All of these seem to be great additions to the already awesome Chromecast. I use mine daily as a main source of streaming content to my living room TV, and it works quite well. Personally, I'll probably wait for Christmas to get one of these, but I think it's a huge step in the right direction. Great job Google!
  • Yet they managed to rise price of new Chromecast for Finland atleast (from 35e to 39e)
  • Can content be streamed to more than one Chromecast? For example, can I stream Netflix to the Chromecast in my son's room, yet still stream a movie from Google Play on the Chromecast in my living room? (I use the term "stream" loosely since I understand that the Chromecast actually pulls the content itself from the source service and doesn't actually receive it from the phone). Unless I am mistaken, the current Chromecast allows you to view content on only one Chromecast at a time.
  • Yes
  • My fear is with the new chrome cast that it'll put too much pressure on the HDMI port, and end up ruining it.
  • Lol nope Posted via the Android Central App
  • What? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Some commenters after you are missing your point (I think), but I'm wondering the same thing that (again, I think) you are -- is that dangling gadget going to place more "pressure" on the HDMI port on my TV than the currently, one-piece compact 1stGen Chromecast? That's a legit concern...though we don't know how heavy this new dongle is.
  • I'm glad someone else understands my point. I think it's a legitimate concern. I understand why they did it, but you also shouldn't have weight/pressure on a port like that. I hope they did plenty of testing, because I'd hate if they had to replace TV's because of this.
  • You could always velcro it to the TV to keep it from dangling. -- LG Access LTE
  • How dare you raise a question about a brand-new unreviewed product? You are coming off as trollish.
  • Calm your jets, kiddo. I'm not usually a bleeding heart for HDMI ports. I'm just questioning the impact a dangling Chromecast will have on an HDMI port. It's a valid question. #tool
  • Heres my question, can you stream the movie via chromecast to tv while streaming the audio of the movie to the chromecast audio ?
    I have an outdoor speaker system that i would love to play NFL sunday ticket Audio on while streaming it to my 65" TV 20 feet away !!!
  • Almost certainly not. Syncing would be nigh impossible Posted via the Android Central App
  • Can you use the new Chromecast with a hotel wireless network that presents a login page? The original Chromecast can't handle that, and that's why I haven't bought one.
  • I believe they fixed that in a recent update.
  • The new Chromecast app is pretty slick. A welcome improvement over the previous version. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Will spotify work with the old chromecast? Will the free version also work... Or do you need a premium acc? Posted via Android Central App
  • I think I'll be getting this. Posted via the Android Central App
  • just ordered one and I don't know why. XD Posted via the Android Central App
  • can we confirm multi room audio casting?
  • Later this year according to Ars Technica. I'm guessing that means synchronised, which would be cool.
  • My most important question.. Does it still use close to the same power via USB? I ask this because my TV's have a USB port that I use to power my Chromecasts as the port seems to provide just enough power.. Much better than an extra power plug that I don't have room for..
  • Old one 850Ma, new one 1A Best always use the one supplied for setting it up, then see if the tv one can run it once it's configured. An advantage of using external power is that when you tell it to stream something it'll turn on the TV itself using hdmi-cec.
  • Are these features all unavailable on the original Chromecast? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I thought maybe they would finally give the Chromecast its own menu ans GUI system with a remote so that we wouldn't have to rely on our phones to play content from places like Netflix. Also I still can't play Amazon Instant Video. I guess the Fire TV Stick is still the device for me. Don't get me wrong, there are some things the Chromecast does better, like Youtube support and being able to cast music, but it falls too short in other areas for me.
  • They mentioned 17 countries for launch, which are the 17?
  • FedEx just delivered my new Chromecast I'm in Texas
  • Do I need that if I have a Samsung Smart TV and Amazon fire TV stick? I put away my first Chromecast month ago because I had no longer any use for it.