The battle for your TV screen isn’t slowing down. With Apple’s new app-capable Apple TV coming out next month and the Alexa-powered Amazon Fire TV less than a week away, Google introduced an updated Chromecast at today’s press event.
The new Chromecast has many of the same features as the existing Chromecast, putting most of the computing power load onto your phone. However, the new form factor hangs off the back of your TV, comes in three colors and has the latest WiFi standards, along with some updated software to make streaming faster.
The device, which leaked earlier this month, is now a puck-shaped streaming box. While new colors (“Lemonade”, “Coral” and black) might look nice on your TV stand, the Chromecast is still meant to hang onto one of your HDMI ports.
The software might be the biggest change. Fast Play can be implemented by developers to ping your Chromecast when you fire up a Chromecast-enabled app. Then, when you want to show content on your TV, you’ll wait 80 percent less time than with current Chromecast software. Support is also coming to more places, including Showtime, the NBA app, and Spotify.
Spotify is especially important with the new Chromecast Audio, which lets users stream music to old-fashioned speakers. The disc-shaped streaming device (complete with grooves to look like a record) plugs into your speakers via 3.5mm jack and streams music from any service that supports casting.
Unlike Bluetooth, the Chromecast pulls content straight from the cloud without going through your phone, so you don’t have to stay within the Bluetooth zone to listen to your tunes. At the outset, Chromecast Audio doesn’t support multi-room setups, but that feature is coming.