On October 19th, the official Chromecast App was released by Google to users of the Play store outside the USA. This has sparked speculation that the Chromecast device itself will be available soon around the world.
But what is Chromecast, and why is this $35 HDMI dongle so significant?
To answer this we need to look at the market it will be entering. For anyone wanting to stream content to a screen there have never been more options available. From Home Theatre Windows and Linux PCs, dedicated appliances such as Apple TV and Popcorn, and most modern TVs now have some sort of smart functionality.
The main criticisms of these devices are the requirement for another device to control the content, and the complexity of the user interface. The Apple TV device has largely overcome these issues by utilising the consumers existing iPhone or iPad as the remote control. Searching for content using the QWERTY keyboard on a tablet or phone is much easier and intuitive, but this approach has created its own problems. The most obvious being while streaming the device is busy. Moving away from the streamed app will result in the streamed content being paused.
Like the Apple TV, the Google device utilises an existing mobile device such as a tablet or smart phone to perform the searching for content, but this is where the similarities end. Instead of relying on the mobile device for processing the content, the Chromecast receives the instruction of what to stream, and makes the connection to the web itself. This releases the phone or tablet to search for more content, or to be used for other purposes.
What makes this evolution of the mobile device as a TV remote more significant is the cost. At only $35 this drastically undercuts existing systems and makes it financially viable for households with multiple TVs to make them all ‘smart’. As the number of content providers becoming Chromecast capable grows, so does the potential of this device.