Google is planning to launch a new version of its Chromecast video-streaming device this year, featuring the Android TV operating system and a remote control for the first time.
That is according to a source speaking to 9to5Google, who claims the device will support 4K HDR video, as the current Chromecast Ultra already does, and include the usual features of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
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While the device will stream video just as today's Chromecast does, how users interact with it is set to be very different. Currently, the Chromecast is controlled using a smartphone or by speaking to a nearby Google or Nest smart speaker. Users play the content they want on their smartphone or other device, then tap on the 'cast' icon to send it to the Chromecast, which is plugged into a TV and connected to Wi-Fi.
If the unnamed source's claims are accurate, then the new model will run Google's Android TV operating system, which is currently used by a range of televisions from Sony, Sharp, Philips and Hisense. This is a big departure from the current Chromecast, which beyond a screensaver doesn't have an on-screen user interface of its own.
What's more, the new model is set to come with a remote control for the first time, instead of relying on a smartphone. The remote is said to look like that included with the Apple TV, and has an integrated microphone for speaking to the Google Assistant — a useful way to cue up content from YouTube and other streaming services.
The current, third-generation ChromecastGoogle
As with many other remotes, Google's is said to be programmable to your television, meaning it can switch the TV on/off and adjust the volume. A remote fitting this description was seen passing through the FCC this week. As for the new Chromecast itself, it is claimed to resemble the current model, which is a small disc that hangs from a spare HDMI port using a short cable, keeping it out of sight.
Through its Android TV operating system, the new Chromecast will give access to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
It isn't clear when the new Chromecast will go on sale, especially as Google recently cancelled its annual I/O developer conference in May, due to the coronavirus. The event's main keynote, where new products are often announced, will likely now take place online instead of with a live audience. Failing that, we might have to wait until the company's annual hardware event in the fall.
Apple is also expected to be announcing a new streaming device soon, with an updated Apple TV reportedly in the works.