Oct 01, 2015

Google disrupts audio industry with Chromecast for streamed music

Google aims to massively disrupt the connected audio speaker industry with a new device called Chromecast Audio. We’re used to Chromecast, the device you attach to your TV, that lets you stream episodes and movies from smartphones, tablets and computers. Now there’s a Chromecast specifically for audio. You can get out an old speaker and attach it to Chromecast’s 3.5mm stereo plug, and Chromecast can stream music to it from apps such as Spotify and Google Music. As with the regular Chromecast, media morphs from being played on your device to being streamed directly from the cloud to your Chromecast connected device, so there is no battery drain. If you have a series of speakers you can choose which ones to stream to, and you can pump synchronised music through each speaker throughout your home. Further Chromecast includes a guest mode where family members and visitors to your home can access your Chromecast system on your home network, and select tracks to play on each speaker. With party goers collaborating, there’s no need for a DJ, but Chromecast audio could lead to age-old arguments about which track is going to play next. The Chromecast app works with both iOS and Android devices so Apple users can “join in the fun”, said Google at its launch. Chromecast too has changed shape. Both Chromecast Audio and a new version of Chromecast for TVs now are disk shaped. They work basically the same way. There’s a port for a microUSB connection that powers the devices and, in the case of Chromecast, an HDMI connection out or for Chromecast Audio, a stereo plug connection. Google says the new shape will make it easy for Chromecast to dangle at the back of a TV set and fit snugly behind a mounted TV without taking up space. The new Chromecast devices support dual 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi for faster streaming, and are capable of working out which channels to use in a home network to maximise media throughput. But don’t expect to see the new Chromecasts in Australia anytime soon, as Australia is not among the countries chosen to get it first, sometime later this year. There’s no time frame for it yet, and no price, but in the US it is available from today for $US35. So expect $50 or more for each Chromecast device when it eventually goes on sale in Australia.

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