Google is taking another shot at gaining a spot on that big screen you’ve got sitting in your living room, as today they introduced the Chromecast, a small $35 dongle that will allow users to stream videos from a phone or tablet to their TV using the Chrome browser.
Essentially, it turns every TV into a smart TV, but it uses the same basic interface as whatever device you’re on. “Everyone loves their phones, tablets, and laptops,” said Google. “Unlike other solutions, we will not force you to have the same operating system on all your devices.” It connects over HDMI and is powered by USB.
The Chromecast doesn’t mirror devices like Apple’s AirPlay and the Apple TV does. Instead it turns your mobile device or computer into a remote control and streaming hub. You can then play videos, control the volume, and even turn on the TV. Chromecast will continue playing even if your phone goes to sleep. It’s supported on iOS and Android, no Windows Phone love for now.
The device supports Chrome on recent versions of Mac OS X and Windows, allowing users to stream directly from the browser, then use their computer as normal while the video plays. The only currently supported Chromebook is the high-end Pixel, although more Chromebook support is said to be on the way.
Along with YouTube, Google demonstrated video playback from Netflix, and audio from Pandora. Google will be releasing a developer preview and SDK to let other apps support streaming to the device.
The Chromecast is listed as in stock on Google Play, and it will also be available through Amazon and Best Buy. For a “limited time only” it will come with three free months of Netflix included.