At Nexus Hardware Event Google Shows Now On Tap & Expanded Voice Actions

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chromecast is Google’s hugely successful Trojan Horse into your home.

Video and music tend to hog the headlines around the subject of casting technology, but with its new Chromecast, Google is making a play in another area: games. Google’s secret weapon for getting inside our homes and deeper within the fabric of our daily lives is not smart appliance maker Nest or even its ubiquitous Android operating system.

Both these devices will be priced at $35 (approx Rs 2,400) which was also the price of the original Chromecast (launched in 2013), and will start selling in around 17 countries soon. That device can download and run games, spurring talk of it competing with established games consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Nintendo’s Wii U. The Chromecast, which Google refreshed today with a 2.0 version for video and a new device solely for audio streaming, has sold 20 million units since 2013. Now Google’s making playing games on smartphones but viewing them on TV’s a feature of its Chromecast, using your phone both as a controller and for its processing power. “There’s a fundamental difference between the other models out there and what we’re doing. And the expanded product family is poised to continue sucking up key infrastructure in the home media system thanks to its low-cost and ever-expanding feature set, which now includes Spotify support and universal search.

It may be one or two generations more computing power,” he told the Guardian. “By running the game on the smartphone, you’re taking advantage of much more powerful computing power than you are by downloading a game on to a streaming box and running it on that device,” he said. “Our model gives us a huge advantage in being able to run games and render much higher quality graphics. But the most important innovations on the new Chromecast are on the inside with improved connectivity, improved antenna system and support for Wi-fi 802.11ac (5GHz band). The Chromecast is a no-frills device — you just tap its icon in whatever app you’re looking at and the Chromecast moves, or “casts,” the image to your TV.

Something we think will be very popular with the Cast model.” Google launched the first Chromecast in July 2013 as a thumb-sized device that plugged into a television. The metal-bodied 6P is 7.3mm thick, runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, packs in a big 3,450mAh battery, has a new fingerprint sensor called the Nexus Imprint, uses the USB Type-C port and, as Google claims, can charge the battery twice as quickly as an iPhone 6 Plus. While Amazon has never disclosed sales figures for its Fire Stick, Roku only last year hit 10 million devices sold, making the Chromecast a comparable runaway success.

It comes with a ‘Fast Play’ feature that lets the Chromecast pre-fetch a video from an app and video content which it thinks you are most likely to watch even before you hit play. Chromecast, as an infrastructure tool and not a content machine, is a tried-and-true strategy for Google: provide the piping, and it won’t matter much what products or services plug in or what comes out on the other end.

It’s far from the first gadget to do this, from the connected hi-fis of Sonos and other manufacturers to cheaper devices like the Gramofon, which also has a close relationship with Spotify, and which looks like the most direct rival for Chromecast Audio. Not much details were spoken about Fast Play, but it seems to be working based on your history of Chromecast use, loading videos faster than without the feature activated.

This time, however, Google is using a small, cheap piece of hardware to put itself between you and all of the music, television, movies, and games you have flying back and forth across your in-home Wi-Fi network. The pieces of this that are new – that can bring it mainstream – are firstly the apps that people already use to listen to music on their smartphones,” he said. The Chromecast was one of the first devices that turned a dumb home product into a smart one without creating the feeling that you were buying a version of a DVD player or video game console.

So you can browse through photographs on your phone, while viewing pictures on your TV, and your browsing photo activity will not be mirrored on your TV. If you wanted a wireless home sound system before, you’d have to look into a higher-end brand, settle on a Bluetooth-enabled model, or fall back on a company like Sonos, which makes a great speaker tied to a lackluster mobile app. That’s the most natural entry point to the internet of things,” he said. “This $35 device may be the thing that takes it from ‘I’m a fan of the internet of things’ – which unfortunately not a lot of people are – to ‘I want music in my home’ which is a real use case. Amazon is experimenting with voice-only with its Echo, for example,” he said. “You see different companies taking different approaches.” The software and services running on these products are interesting because, in many cases, they will be interfacing with multiple people rather than a single owner. Google’s Queiroz said his company is looking to app developers to think about collaborative use cases. “For multiplayer games, your smartphone is your controller,” he said, before citing an API launched by Google this year that will enable developers to add “joint queues” for their cast-enabled apps. “It’s something we’ve had from the very first day we launched YouTube for Chromecast: you can create playlists that everybody can contribute to: they go into the YouTube app and add to a joint queue across multiple people,” he said.

Spotify, too, is thinking about the communal experience, and how to best fit it into the company’s mobile app, which is becoming ever more personalised to the individual owner of the smartphone it’s installed on. Surely, smartphone makers such as Samsung, HTC and Sony would be delighted, because it allows them as well to roll out phones with the latest OS this festive season. Chromecast Audio can be connected to your speakers and it will work with apps such as Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, NPR as well as a host of other audio apps that support audio casting. In fact, HTC has already confirmed that the roll-out of Android 6.0 will begin before the end of the year for its One M8 and One M9 smartphones, with the more recent One and Desire series launches in line to get the update early next year.

Then there’s the Nexus Q, a spherical speaker and streaming device that performed so poorly at convincing consumers why it should exist that Google pulled it from its Play Store after four months and gave it away for free to anyone who preordered it. Chromecast 2 now supports the much faster 5GHz Wi-Fi networks, which will significantly improve performance when streaming HD files in areas with many Wi-Fi networks. Google says it has a reason to offer high- and low-end devices that, at their core, do the same stuff. “We do believe computers will be in TVs,” Rishi Chanda, the vice president of product management for Google’s TV efforts, told The Verge today. In that sense, the Android TV is an investment in that future, a product that will be ready for consumers when they upgrade their TV sets down the line, Chandra said.

It’s not hard to imagine a Google-made go-between that outfits dumb or outdated home appliances with network connectivity or the ability to perform newer, more useful tasks. Amazon is already using a similar approach to the smart home with its Alexa voice assistant, which comes baked into the Amazon Echo speaker and Fire Stick and now lets you control home automation products from Smart Things, Belkin, Philips, and Insteon.

This device is also all about wireless streaming, but instead of plugging into the TV, it plugs directly into any music system or speakers you own, through the standard 3.5mm port. Well, for the same reasons Google offers both Chromecast and Android TV: we may not be ready now to live in a world of smart appliances, but for a few bucks here and there you could get close enough in the meantime. This not only brings your old speakers up to date with the wireless trends of the present day, but it also relies on Wi-Fi which means streaming quality will be better than Bluetooth.

Incidentally, none of these officially work in India, and we are yet to get confirmation on which other apps will support this device in the near future. The Pixel C, manufactured completely by Google, is their answer to the hybrid computing device concept that the Microsoft Surface tends to boast about.

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