Google Also Announces Chromecast

While Nexus 7 (2013) and Android 4.3 were the highlights of Google's "Breakfast with Sundar Pichai" event, the third item on the itinerary almost in succeeded surprising us, Chromecast. While not necessarily the same kind of device as the Nexus Q, it renders it obsolete.

Chromecast is a TV-smartener like the countless Android-based ones that came before it; but stands out on a number of respects. It runs a highly optimized version of Chrome OS, makes your device the remote or input device. Setting it up is as simple as plugging it into one of the many free HDMI ports on your TV, another cable to either your TV's USB port, or a USB power adapter; configuring it to work with your home's Wi-Fi, linking it with your Google account, and you're set.

The device lets you beam over web-based or cloud-stored to your TV, from your device. If you want to watch a YouTube video on your big screen, all you have to do is select that video in the YouTube app or YouTube Chrome browser tab from any of your device, and click/tap on a button that says "cast." It will make YouTube transmit that video over to Chrome cast via the device' Internet connection, and you can continue using your device. You can control the playback of that video, or queue up other videos, by simply using common controls on the YouTube app or browser tab.

So while solutions like AirPlay transmit locally stored content from your device to the TV; your device' role ends with selecting what you want to see on your TV, occasionally dropping in to control playback. It doesn't end with YouTube, Google outed the Google Cast SDK, which takes the concept over to pretty much any app, on any environment. Netflix is piloting Chromecast support on its apps, Pandora has one in the works, common Google apps like Play Movies, Play TV Shows, and Play Music, are also part of the pilot.

The device you use to control Chromecast needn't be an Android-based smartphone or tablet, it can very well be an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook, a Mac, and of course, a Windows PC. Using it is not difficult to get a hang on, but once you do, your living room will never be the same.

Chromecast is yours for $35, available today from Amazon, Best Buy, and Google Play; in the US.