Google’s Chromecast provides one of the cheapest, easiest ways to stream internet content to your TV. Plug the $35 adapter into the HDMI port of your TV, find content you want to watch using your phone or tablet, and hit a button to make it start playing on the TV instead of on your mobile device.
Soon you might not need to buy a Chromecast though. Variety reports that Vizio and at least one other TV maker is working with Google to build Google Cast features straight into upcoming television sets.
That means you’d be able to use a Vizio TV to watch cable or broadcast channels. But when you want to watch a video from YouTube or Netflix you’d just find that video on your phone, tap the Cast button and it would begin streaming to the TV.
You can turn off your phone and put it away, because the video would actually be streaming straight from the internet to the TV. But your mobile device would still work as a remote control, letting you pause/play/stop or find a different song or video.
Vizio is also said to be considering including an Android tablet that you could use instead of a traditional remote control for its TVs.
Right now there’s no shortage of smart TV platforms… including Google’s other internet TV initiative: Android TV. Most of these platforms let you install a bunch of apps on your TV and navigate with a remote control (although some of those remotes support voice or motion input as well as button presses).
That’s largely how Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and smart TVs from companies like Samsung and LG work. Google has been trying to get into that space for years, first with the launch of Google TV and later with an updated version called Android TV.
But there aren’t all that many companies using Android TV software on their smart TVs and TV boxes. Meanwhile, Google had sold 20 million Chromecast units by September 2015… and that number doesn’t include any sales of the new 2nd-generation models or Chromecast Audio devices.
Google’s simpler, stripped-down TV streamer seems to be succeeding in a way that Android TV never really has. Maybe the partnership with TV makers like Vizio is a sign that Google is switching gears to focus on Cast rather than Android TV?
On the other hand, NVIDIA’s Android TV-powered Shield TV still seems to be going strong. The company just released an update bringing Android 6.0 Lollipop to the device this week.
Incidentally, Google Cast is built into Android TV… if you do have a device like the NVIDIA Shield that uses Google’s smart TV platform, then you don’t need a separate Chromecast device. But if the Variety report is accurate, Vizio and other TV makers may be looking for a simpler solution that lets users stream internet video without any smart TV user interface at all. You’d theoretically be able to stop watching live TV and switch to internet video just by tapping a button on your phone or tablet, no special user interface required.