Apart from announcing Android 4.3 and the new Nexus 7, Google also unveiled a new device called Chromecast that is an inexpensive TV streaming stick that can easily play videos and other content from your phone, tablet or computer.
To use the Chromecast device, which is not much bigger than a USB drive, one has to plug it into the HDMI port of your TV, connect the USB power cord and it will automatically connect to your WiFi network. It essentially turns every TV into a smart TV, but lets you control it through whatever device you’re on rather than providing a new interface or needing a separate remote.
Apps which support Chromecast will have a button which will allow you to push content easily to the television. While using Chromecast, the television acts as a second display. So if you are using Chrome on your laptop or phone you can an push a tab to your television, the address bar will go missing. If you push video from a device it will play on the TV even if you use other apps on your phone or tablet. One can also keep the video playing if your switch off your display. Chrome support is still in beta.
Unlike other devices, like AirPlay and Apple TV, what makes the Chromecast different is that it supports a variety of platforms like Android 2.3 and up, iOS 6 and up, Windows 7 and up, Mac OS 10.7 and up and Chrome OS on the Chromebook Pixel. Chromecast information can also be synced across these devices so one could pause and resume videos from different devices.
At present, it works with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, and Google Play Music. While Netflix and Google Play Music are not available in India, users could use this device to play stuff off YouTube, Chrome and Google Play Movies if and when the device becomes available here.
The device is priced at $35 and is presently available only in the US.
This device definitely looks more promising than the Nexus Q which Google had to cancel just months after it was announced.