According to internal documents that 9to5Google has obtained, huge updates to the Chromecast platform are just around the corner. The long-rumored 2nd generation Chromecast hardware is set to debut at Google’s event later this month, packing many new features including feeds for the device’s main screen, improved WiFi, a new feature called “Fast Play,” and more…
First up is the new Chromecast hardware itself, which you can see pictured above. Based on these images alone, it appears that the device is definitely a departure from the original model, leaving behind the “dongle” form factor. That said, besides the fact that it comes in three colors, we still haven’t quite figured out what it is we’re looking at here. A balloon? A pair of ear muffs? Your guess is as good as ours. Google’s not only changing the appearance, though — this thing has a lot of changes coming to the inside as well.
While we haven’t seen the exact specifications of the new device, we have learned that one of the changes Google is bringing to this version is improved WiFi, which could possibly mean support for the faster 802.11ac band. Phandroid previously surfaced FCC documents it claimed were for the next Nexus Player showing 802.11ac WiFi support, but we’ve learned that those documents are actually describing this new 2nd generation Chromecast. The original Chromecast only supported 802.11b/g/n.
The 2nd generation Chromecast, which — for the record — we’ve only seen referred to as the “new Chromecast,” is also going to include support for content feeds on the Chromecast home screen. It’s not clear yet what kind of “feeds” you’ll be able to add, but this probably means adding social media feeds or image feeds that can play when your Chromecast is in its screensaver “backdrop” mode. Currently, the Chromecast backdrop is customizable in that you can toggle things like weather and art, as well as add your own personal photos.
There’s also a new feature called “Fast Play”. Assumably, along with the improved WiFi features, “Fast Play” will allow Chromecast to establish a connection much quicker and play content more seamlessly when pressing the “Cast” button on a connected device. This is one area many users find frustrating with the current Chromecast, and if Google has made the experience anything close to this, Fast Play might be the device’s most compelling feature.
Not to be confused with Google Cast for Audio, which is Google’s platform for making speakers and other audio hardware directly compatible with the Chromecast protocols, Google is also planning to launch “Chromecast Audio”. According to the leaked documentation we’ve seen, it appears that this could allow your Chromecast to plug directly into any speaker by way of auxiliary cord, providing Chromecast support to any speaker or audio system in your home. This feature will, according to the documents, have multi-room support, the ability to mirror your Chrome or Android audio, and brings “high-quality” audio.
Update: We’ve learned that Chromecast Audio is indeed a second Chromecast device.
According to the documents, the device is set to be announced at the company’s September 29th event, the same day that the two new Nexus devices are rumored to launch. The device will assumably be priced similar to the first generation Chromecast, and will launch in at least 10 countries. Additionally, as we reported earlier today, Google will also announce that Spotify is preparing to launch Chromecast support in its mobile app.
Tom Maxwell contributed to this report.