Apart from announcing its latest Nexus devices, Google has also shown off a whole new completely redesigned $35 Chromecast dongle. Over 20 million Chromecasts have been sold to date. The New Chromecast is circular and comes with an HDMI cable and it’s cute and little. It also comes in a couple of colors and just like the previous Chromecast, it just sort of hangs off your HDMI port on your TV. It supports all kinds of WiFi streaming standards 802.11ac, including 5GHz Wi-Fi. There an “entirely new adaptive antenna system.”
The Chromecast app has also been “completely redesigned.” If you open the Chromecast app, it shows you stuff that’s popular on “partner” apps — Twitch, ESPN, YouTube, Hulu, Netflix. It only shows you content from apps you actually have installed on your phone. There’s also a big section of cast-enabled apps. Google has also added simple playback controls to the app, which, thank you, it’s a pain to go hunting for those sometimes. You can do a voice search for stuff to watch inside the Chromecast app and it’s universal across services and this will roll out “over the next few weeks” on Android and iOS.
Google also showed off Chromecast Audio, a small device that plugs into a home speaker to stream audio over Wi-Fi from your existing apps. It’s also a circle, with little grooves like a record. You have to plug it in, too and then plug it into a 3.5mm jack. Or RCA or Optical.
With Fast Play, the Chromecast can pre-fetch video streams.When you open an app, it can guess what it thinks you will watch and start caching the stream in the background. During the demo, the Netflix app started downloading it when they started searching. Some of the content prediction features roll out next year.