Google has been offering a cheap media streaming device for TVs since 2013. The Chromecast costs $35, plugs into an HDMI port on your TV, and lets you use your phone, tablet, or computer as a remote control.

Now Google is launching two major updates to the Chromecast family. The user interface is still simple/nonexistent: you still use your mobile device to find music and videos to send your TV. But the new Chromecast has more powerful hardware, while the new Chromecast Audio is designed to do for speakers and audio what the original Chromecast did for TV and video.

chromecasts

Chromecast

Thew new Chromecast is a small circle with an integrated HDMI cable, allowing it to hang from the HDMI port on your TV instead of sticking out like the original.

Under the hood, the new model supports faster WiFi networks thanks to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11ac WiFi support. Despite some earlier reports, it appears that the new model supports 1080p content, but not Ultra HD 4K video.

chromecast 2_03

Along with new hardware, Google has announced that even more content is coming to Chromecast. Showtime has announce plans to make all of its content available on Chromecast. NBA, NHL, and other sports leagues are bringing content to Chromecast. And Sling TV will bring live TV to Chromecast as well.

chromecast app

Not sure what apps work with Chromecast? Google is also updating the Chromecast mobile app to make it easier to discover content through a “what’s on” section that shows a list of compatible apps and movies, TV shows, or other content available.

A new search feature also lets you find programming from across different apps.

There’s also a new Device tab that offers playback controls so you can play, pause, or mute at any time, no matter what’s playing.

Google also says Chromecast-compatible apps will also start launching apps more quickly thanks to a new Fast Play feature that allows a Chromecast to automatically detect when you launch an app like Netflix, and begin loading it in the background, or to start downloading a small portion of the next episode of a TV show after you finish the first in order to minimize the amount of time you have to wait for content to load.

The 2nd-gen Chromecast device is available starting today for $35.

Chromecast Audio

Chromecast Audio is a small dongle that you can plug into any speaker with a 3.5mm, RCA, or optical audio jack. Then fire up any audio app on your mobile device, hit the cast button, and audio starts playing on you speaker.

At first glance, you might wonder why you would want to use a Chromecast device to stream music from your phone when you could also use a Bluetooth receiver. The answer is that just like the original Chromecast, the audio version lets you use your phone as a remote… but music is actually streaming from the cloud.

chromecast audio_02

That means you can start a Spotify playlist and listen to music that streams straight from the internet to the Chromecast. You can continue to use your phone to tap the play or pause buttons, but most of the time your phone isn’t doing anything at all, so your battery won’t drain quickly.

If you want to mirror audio from your mobile device or from a Chrome browser tab, you can though… and that will make it possible to stream local audio or stream music from sources that might not otherwise support Chromecast.

There’s also support for multi-room listening.

Like the Chromecast, Google’s new Chromecast Audio will be available starting today in 17 countries for $35.

The original Chromecast has been pretty successful: Google says it’s sold 20 million units since it first launched. The new model for TVs should offer all the same features, plus better WiFi performance. If you’re happy with the wireless performance of your existing unit, there’s probably not much reason to upgrade.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the new Chromecast Audio device is anywhere near as successful.

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15 replies on “Google launches 2nd-gen Chromecast and Chromecast Audio”

  1. Got my Chromecast v2 today. Ordered it from Google on Wednesday. Didn’t expect it so quick, but happy with the delivery speed. I ordered black.

    v2 is noticeably faster than v1. Click the Cast icon in Google Play Music switches almost instantaneously. Playing an album or song takes about 1 second to begin.

    It is certainly an improvement on the previous version.

  2. Ok, so what the flying f.ck is happening here, where was the new Nexus Player announcement?

    The current Nexus Player which includes a remote is in the bargain bin at $50 at bestbuy etc . This is priced now basically in ballpark competition with the new Chromecast, if you add in the remote with the chromecast the nexus player is cheaper. Yet the Nexus player would be the better offering IMO.

    It looks like the Nexus Player is being cleared out , one would think to make way for a new Nexus Player, and now nothing. So what now of Android TV?, it seems the only one flying the flag is Nvidia with the Shield TV now that the Nexus Player and Forge TV haven’t taken off.

    Surely Google will launch another Nexus Player, surely. This would be the least sensical decision yet if hey don’t. 1) They need another device to follow through with Android TV and keep pushing it. 2) The old Nexus Player is now competing with the new Chromecast (ridiculous situation for a company to do to itself)

  3. Multi-room listening for $35 per room? Sonos has got to be pretty nervous about this.

  4. I read an interview somewhere (theVerge?) with a Googler who said 4k was not on the table for Chromecast right now. Android TV supports it though.
    I think the audio product is actually the big deal here as long as sync works well when it comes. A lot of people could probably find old speakers and receivers in their parents attics and basements which work as well or better than pricey Sonos gear and absolutely crush any bluetooth speaker you can find. Add $35 dongle and Bob’s your Uncle.
    As long as your old Chromecast performs well enough for you in its current wi-fi context then I don’t think you gain anything by getting the new hardware. Most of the new stuff is in the app so I don’t see why it shouldn’t work just as well with the older hardware.
    The real question on my mind is this. What was that Google multimedia device which passed through the FCC recently with ethernet, blue tooth low energy and four USB ports? And why wasn’t it announced today?

      1. Great, I might actually have use for one “whateveritis” when Google Fiber finally gets to my end of Austin in a couple of years…

  5. Brad, any news on availability in retail stores? The Google store says ‘leaving warehouse 10/2’. If I can buy one at Best Buy or WalMart before 10/4, then I’d rather do that.

    1. Last time it was available through other retailers on launch date. Doesnt look like they have announced retail release dates yet so its a dice roll now. They are so cheap though that you might as well just order both ways and if you get in from the store quicker just return the original order.

  6. They did not mention if the new chromecast supports 4k video or h265, and did not say hdmi 2.0. The attached cable is stupid too (you need to carry the wall wart and usb cable if you want it portable). Not buying the new chromecast either.

  7. Did not notice if they mentioned 4k, if it doesn’t have 4k they wasted their time.
    The Audio is overpriced, most old speakers cost less than 35$.

    1. 4k content is still virtually nonexistent, and the vast majority of TVs out there don’t support 4k anyway. That’s not even considering the number of people who have fast enough broadband to stream 4k content, and then there’s the data caps.

      Add all that together, and Google would have been wasting their time supporting 4k this time around. This isn’t the last Chromecast they’re ever going to release, you know, and I suspect they have a much better sense of what the marketplace needs than you do.

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