Remember the Chromecast? Yes, of course you do. Google’s highly successful $35 dongle has been a hit among consumers, but its virtues may expand far beyond that. According to an exclusive Variety report, in fact, it may well have proved to be a proper Trojan horse for Google, who’s now seeking partners’ attention to build yet more appliances around its technology…
The upcoming Google Home — which is, essentially, Mountain View’s answer to the Amazon Echo — is not only powered by the firm’s smart Assistant, but also fuelled by the same Google Cast that is in fact giving life to the millions of Chromecasts around the world — and that is a big deal. A kosher Trojan horse, we were saying, paraphrasing an expression used by one of the attendees of Google‘s secret meeting which immediately followed the original Home announcement back at this past May’s I/O keynote. Alongside representatives of the search giant, several of “the biggest names of home audio” took part, to talk about Assistant and its forthcoming invasion of people’s homes.
And, apparently, the crux of it was Google’s essential opening to third parties to take advantage of Google Cast and enable a platoon of Home peers, with some of these brands allegedly “ready to unveil speakers with integrated microphones and a connection to Google’s assistant as early as next summer”. And it’s precisely Google Cast — whose engineering team is largely responsible for Home, too — that may represent a turning point for both Google and manufacturers, scared by Amazon’s move taking users away from its more natural search bar habitat and other brands like Sonos respectively.
Cast-compatible streaming apps are in fact already out there, with Spotify, Tunein, Pandora, NPR One and SoundCloud being some of the most notable examples. But Home — and other potential Assistant-powered speakers — is also a Cast sender, which means its integrated microphones will let you yell at it and have other Cast-compatible devices complete the task for you; for instance, you could ask Home to play YouTube on your TV (granted that a Chromecast is already plugged into it), or ask your Cast-enabled devices, like Chromecast Audio-connected speakers, to play music for you in unison.
However, there’s still much to be seen before making this a reality. For one, it was said that during the aforementioned meeting Google truly flexed its negotiating muscle, demanding that such Google Cast-enabled, Assistant-powered third party hardware should not allow for any other digital assistant to share the room, something Variety claims “ultimately led to talks breaking down” regarding “similarly far-reaching demands made in negotiations with another big consumer electronics manufacturer”.
Google certainly is planning a general hardware invasion, but as far as the home goes, we will have to wait and see how it’ll all play out.