Google finally struck gold in its quest to take over the living room with its Chromecast streaming stick, selling 20 million of them in two years. So it makes sense the company is bringing out a new and improved version of the device.
Google’s new Chromecast dumps the stick design in favor of a small new circular device that mimics the design of a vinyl record, with an HDMI plug attached via a short cable. The new design should make it easier to plug the device into hard-to-reach ports on TVs. The device will also have improved Wi-Fi performance thanks to three internal antennae designed to better pick up home wireless networks.
The new Chromecast also boasts a number of software improvements. The Chromecast app will feature a new “What’s On” menu that shows the Chromecast-compatible apps a user has on their phone and shows they can watch from those services. Developers will also be able to make use of a new feature called “Fast Play” that allows them to pre-download content when a Chromecast is plugged in, to reduce or eliminate buffering. Netflix might pre-load part of the next episode of Breaking Bad if it knows you’ve been on a binge of the AMC show, for example.
Google also showed off a separate device called Chromecast Audio, which can provide Internet connectivity to home speakers. The device interacts with speakers in much the same way the old Chromecast works with TVs. Users plug the device into a speaker’s audio input, then can use their smartphones to control Chromecast-compatible apps such as Spotify or Google Play Music. Chromecast Audio will also let users mirror audio from a web browser to their speakers so they can play audio not available in regular streaming apps.
Both the new Chromecast and Chromecast Audio go on sale Tuesday for $35 each.