Google has a simple and inexpensive new way to stream Internet videos on your TV. The company on Wednesday introduced Chrome cast, a small device that lets you stream content to your television over a Wi-Fi network, using your computer, phone or tablet as a remote control. The company said its goal is to create a device with zero setup time, no learning curve, and one that works with all platforms and devices.
The $35 Chrome cast is a radically different approach to TV than Google’s previous failed attempt, the Nexus Q. It’s smaller, cheaper and available.
The two-inch dongle looks like a thumb drive and pops into the HDMI port on an HDTV. It turns your phone, tablet or computer into a remote. Choose what content you’d like to stream and the Chrome cast will play it on a nearby TV.
“We are closing the gap between TV and mobile devices,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president for Chrome and Android, in an interview after a news conference in San Francisco. Nearly half of all peak Internet traffic in North America comes from YouTube and Netflix, he said, and people want to be able to watch those videos on the big screen.
Chrome cast, unlike other gadgets that play online media on TVs, works with laptops, tablets and phones from companies other than Google, so iPhone loyalists, or people with both Android and Apple devices, can use it. “We will not force you to have the same operating system on all your devices,” said Mario Queiroz, a Google vice president who leads development of Google’s TV products.
Tech companies, including Google, Apple and Amazon.com, often try to lock in customers by offering media accessible only through their services or devices. Still, Google can take its open arms philosophy only so far. As of now, Chrome cast shows media from Google’s own properties, YouTube and Play, as well as Netflix. Technology called Google Cast enables any software developer to program its mobile apps to work on TVs. Google said apps from others, including Pandora, would be coming soon.