Google announces improved Chromecast 2.0, new Chromecast Audio

Google Chromecast 2.0
Credit: Google

Yesterday Google unveiled the Chromecast 2.0. In case you're not familiar with Chromecast, it's a gadget that connects to your TV via an HDMI port and receives media 'cast' from your phone, computer or tablet. Your phone (or other device) becomes the remote for the Chromecast.

So what's new in Chromecast 2.0? Aside from a design change (the new model is round and comes in a few colors) the differences between Chromecast and Chromecast 2.0 are pretty subtle. The new model is faster and supports 5 GHz, 802.11ac WiFi and has three antennas instead of one in the older model. The new model also introduces a feature called Fast Play which is supposed to make your streams start more quickly by pre-loading content it anticipates you're going to stream. Lastly there's some support for gaming whereby an app can show one screen on your phone and another on Chromecast 2.0. For example you might have virtual controls on the phone and a view into a game world on the TV.

I've had the original Chromecast since it launched and I've been delighted with it. To me it feels fast enough and I really have no complaints, but I've already ordered Chromecast 2.0. Why? Because it's $35, so why not? And that to me is Chromecast's killer feature. It's so cheap that it's a real impulse purchase. We have two TVs so now we'll have have one on each TV.

In addition to Chromecast 2.0, Google announced Chromecast Audio. This is a similar device, only instead of attaching to a TV you attach it to speakers (via optical audio cable, RCA cables or 3.5mm auxiliary input). It too costs $35.

In addition to the hardware Google announced support for new content sources. Showtime (the streaming version) should be available now and support for Sling TV, NBA and MLB should be coming in the next few weeks. Additionally Spotify support is coming to both Chromecast and Chromecast audio. There's also an updated Chromecast app coming soon which should help you discover more cast-able media to enjoy.

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