It was no secret that Google was going to release a new Chromecast at their latest event yesterday. But nobody saw two of them coming; a second-generation dongle for streaming video, and a Chromecast Audio dongle that adds wireless music-streaming capabilities to any speaker with a 3.5mm auxiliary jack.
2nd Generation Chromecast
The premise of the 2nd generation Chromecast is still the same, it plugs in to the back of your TV via an HDMI port, and casts content from the Chromecast mobile app to your TV. Also like the first one it costs just $35/£35, cheaper than all it's closest competitors.
So that's what's staying the same, but what's different? First of all it has a new look, which is both for aesthetics and for functionality. The new disc-like device has a bendable HDMI arm, this is so the device hangs further from the TV and other devices. It also now ships in lemon yellow, bright red, and the standard black edition.
More importantly than the aesthetics (considering you don't see the device most of the time), Google updated the guts of the Chromecast to include support for modern Wi-Fi streaming standards (802.11ac, 5Ghz).
Fast Play is another new feature in Chromecast, it pre-fetches content from any video streaming app that Chromecast thinks you'll want to watch. The Chromecast app has gotten a total refresh, it has improved the discovery features with a "What's On" section that shows top content from the streaming video apps you have downloaded onto your phone.
The 2nd of the Chromecast's announced at Google's most recent event is the Chromecast Audio. Chromecast Audio does for home speakers what the standard Chromecast does for TV sets: creates a bridge between traditional technology and modern streaming services.
Aesthetically. the Chromecast Audio doesn't differ too much from the all-new disc shaped Chromecast, instead of having HDMI output it has 3.5mm headphone jack. It also supports RCA or optical audio outputs.
Seemingly the Chromecast Audio is a perfect answer to peoples WiFi streaming problems, but it's not without its faults: For one, you'll need a Chromecast for every device you want to add WiFi music streaming to, it also needs to be plugged into a power source as well as a speaker, so you'll end up with some extra wiring in the back.
It's certainly an exciting product. and we can't wait to see (or hear) more of its capabilities in the future. The Chromecast Audio will also retail for $35/£35, just like the normal Chromecast.
Check out the video below by Google to see what Chromecast Audio can do.