Google just announced the new Chromecasts. That’s right, it’s plural. One is a regular Chromecast for streaming video content to the TV. The other is Chromecast Audio, a music-streaming dongle that plugs into speakers and sound systems.
Taking on a whole new form factor, the new Chromecasts sport a disc shape that resembles the round Chromecast logo. The TV version has an integrated cable with an HDMI dongle at the end, while the Audio version comes with inputs for 3.5mm, RCA, and optical jacks.
Ditching the stick form factor works very well for the TV Chromecast, since you can now easily squeeze the cable in between two occupied ports on the TV. Aside from the redesign, it comes upgraded on the features end, too, with new dual Wi-Fi antennas, faster loading (courtesy of Fast Play, which preloads content onto your device), and a revamped app that allows you to search through multiple streaming sources from a single interface. Oh yeah, the gaming capabilities are much more robust, too, as you can instantly stream games onto the TV (using your phone as the controller) with up to four players at the same time.
Chromecast Audio, basically, will stream music to your speakers over WiFi, which should help preserve audio quality compared to streaming over Bluetooth. Operation is even simpler than the TV version, since you simply tap the “cast” button on any compatible music app to have the tunes immediately play on the connected speakers. Supported services include Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Rdio, and more.
Available now, the new Chromecasts retail for $35 apiece.