Google has launched Chromecast, a low cost competitor to Apple TV that plugs into a TV’s HDMI slot and streams media, controlled via almost any PC or mobile.
Watch this promo video from Google demonstrating how Chromecast works below:
The device has already gone on sale in the US for just $35 (£23), but Google has not yet revealed plans for international versions.
Chromecast supports both Android and iOS devices, and at the launch event Google demonstrated the device using a Windows laptop and an iPhone.
The device currently only streams content from YouTube, Google Play and Netflix, although more apps, such as Pandora, are expected in the future.
Each app that supports Chromecast will have a “Cast” button that sends content from your device to the TV.
The Chrome browser will also be equipped with a “Cast” button that streams whatever is in the users browser to the TV, an option for things like HBO Go.
The company said its goal is to create a device with no setup time, no learning curve, and one that works with all platforms and devices.
“The television is missing in the streaming video picture,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Chrome and apps. “It is really, really difficult to get your online videos on the television.”
Unlike other similar devices, such as Apple TV (which costs $99), the media is streamed from the cloud, rather than from the mobile device itself.
This, Google said, allowed for higher-quality streaming, and had less impact on battery life.
The search giant was especially keen to stress the dongle’s ability to stream across multiple operating systems, be it Android or Apple’s iOS.
Google’s fourth attempt at web TV
The Chromecast will compete with existing internet-on-TV devices like Apple TV and Roku, and marks Google’s fourth attempt at tapping into the growing market, considered by many experts to be ripe ground for making large profits through advertising.
In 2012, Google partnered with Sony to launch a £200 set-top box, which was poorly received.
That attempt followed an even earlier false start in 2010 when it launched Google TV, a service that was blocked by several TV networks, and suffered greatly from requiring consumers to buy expensive hardware.
More recently, the orb-shaped Nexus Q device, announced last year, fell flat almost immediately – Google pulled it from sale in response to “feedback”.
New Nexus 7 and Android operating system
Google also announced an upgraded Nexus 7 tablet, the first to run the new version of the Android system, which will go on sale in the “coming weeks”.
The tablet will be the first to run Android 4.3, the latest iteration of the Jelly Bean flavour of Google’s mobile operating system.
Among the software’s new features will be the ability to set restricted profiles, meaning parents can, for example, only give their child access to certain functions on a device.
The Asus-built device is slightly smaller, and 50g (1.8oz) lighter, than the original Nexus 7, which was launched last year.
The new device will have a screen resolution higher than any in its class, boasting 323 pixels per inch.
That is significantly higher than the iPad Mini’s 163ppi and the 7in Kindle Fire HD’s 216ppi.
The new Nexus 7 will cost $30 more than it predecessor at $229 (£150), with other international prices yet to be announced.
The price point keeps it in line with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, another key competitor – and considerably cheaper than Apple’s iPad Mini, which retails starting at $329, or £269 in the UK.
Read the official Chromecast announcement here