Google’s new Chromecast is a step-up from its previous offerings, with built-in Google TV (Android TV is going back to its original, decade-old name)
Google’s new Chromecast is a step-up from its previous offerings, with built-in Google TV (Android TV is going back to its original, decade-old name) and a remote. The remote itself is a first for a Chromecast; it has volume and power control, plus dedicated video app buttons (like a Netflix button). It also features a Google Assistant button so you can use voice control to queue up videos or recite lengthy passwords. The Chromecast itself supports up to 4K HDR video and Dolby Vision. It goes on sale today for $50—undercutting the cost of an Apple TV, but not quite as cheap as some of the streaming video sticks from Amazon or Roku.
Google TV is an interesting addition. While Android is still powering the underlying experience, this new interface means you’ll see Googly recommendations for what to watch (and undoubtedly an emphasis on YouTube). This new user interface will also be available on smart TVs, though Google hasn’t yet shared exactly which TV models will get it.
One of the most exciting additions to the Mountain View company’s new lineup is the new Nest Audio. This $100 smart speaker comes in five colors and boasts 75 percent more volume than the original Google Home that debuted in 2016, competing with Amazon’s standard-size Echo speaker. The cute pillow-shaped speaker has a few exciting things going for it, notably being made of 70 percent recycled plastic.
It will even work great for multiroom sound if you get more than one. It’s also streaming service agnostic. It works with Spotify, Pandora, Google’s own YouTube Music, and many other popular services (though we’re not yet sure about Apple Music). We’ve yet to get ears-on time, but past Google smart speakers have always sounded impressive for their size and cost. Amy Winehouse producer Mark Ronson seemed to be excited about the quality of his own music in Google’s video demo.
What Google Didn’t Announce
Google did its best to add pizazz (and a fair amount of music and celebrities) to today’s product launch event, but there were also a few notable omissions. Google didn’t reveal any kind of new wearable technology, something that would compete directly with Apple Watch. (Google announced it would acquire Fitbit almost a year ago now, but the deal hasn’t yet been approved by regulators.) One of the technologies Google made a big deal about during last year’s Pixel launch, Motion Sense—powered by its Project Soli radar chip—was conspicuously absent from this year’s Pixel announcement.