- Matt Weinberger/Business Insider
On Tuesday, Google announced a new update to the $35 Chromecast media streaming device that changes the form factor and adds some extra juice to its network speed.
It looks cool, but the good news is that for the 20 million of you who already own a Google Chromecast, the device you already have, you’re getting the best parts of the upgrade without having to buy a new device.
The first best part is the revamped Chromecast app for Apple iOS and Android, coming to your phone soon, Google promises.
Now it shows you a selection of the TV shows, movies, and YouTube clips available to stream to your Chromecast.
You can even do a search within the app to find TV shows and movies to watch – and it’ll tell you which services they’re available on.
That means no more guessing if any given TV show or movie is on Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, or what. And if you don’t have the right app to watch whatever you turned up, Google will prompt you to install it.
Plus, you can watch a trailer for something else on your phone while a video plays on the Chromecast on the TV, so you can figure out what to watch next.
- Matt Weinberger
Another benefit: You’ll also get “Fast Play,” a new feature that starts loading the next episode of a TV show before you’re done with the current one, so it starts playing just a little faster.
The second best part is an expanded gaming functionality. Now you can stream select smartphone games from your iPhone and Android phones or tablets directly to the TV. There’s no external controller necessary: Just use your smartphone to control the action on the TV screen.
It even lets you do split-screen multiplayer, as demonstrated onstage with the “Mario Kart”-like “Angry Birds Go” at today’s Google event.
- Matt Weinberger
Game developers have to put a little work in to make their titles support the Chromecast.
But at launch, it’s supporting popular games like “Angry Birds Go,” “Just Dance Now,” and “WGT: World Golf Tour.” It even supports the Twitch game-streaming service so you can watch others play video games on your TV while the chat appears on your phone.
All of the computing power for these games happens on your phone. So as phones get better and more powerful, a Google employee tells me, these games will look a lot better. As it is now, the games look mostly fine.
But obviously, a smartphone isn’t as much of a graphics powerhouse as a dedicated video-game console like the Sony PlayStation 4 or Microsoft Xbox One.
Still, as an added feature, it’s cool. And if it takes off, it’s one more reason why Sony and Microsoft should be afraid for their console businesses.