Google has unveiled a new protocol that will make it easy to stream internet audio to a WiFi-capable speaker. Google Cast for Audio works a lot like Cast for Chromecast: find music you want to play on your phone, tablet, or web browser and tap a button to send it to a speaker.
What’s different is that the Chromecast is a $35 device that you plug into your TV. Google Cast for audio is a protocol that will be built into speakers you can buy starting this spring.
Google says the first Google Cast ready speakers will come from companies including Sony, LG, and Denon.
If you have a supported speaker, soundbar, or A/V receiver you’ll be able to fire up apps like Google Play Music, Rdio, TuneIn, Pandora, or NPR One on your Android or iOS device or in a PC web browser and tap the Cast icon to send content to your speaker.
What makes this different from a Bluetooth speaker which lets you stream content from your mobile device is that a Google Cast ready speaker will actually stream content straight from the internet. That means you can turn off your phone after using it to select media to play, saving battery life. When you pull out your phone gain you’ll still be able to play, pause, or skip tracks though. But your phone will be like a remote control for your speaker rather than the device that’s actually sending audio to it.