updated 01:53 pm EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
USB-powered media player remotely controlled by mobile devices, computers
After revealing the latest version of the Nexus 7 tablet, Google today introduced an HDMI dongle that will stream videos and show other content from smartphones, tablets, or computers to a HDTV or other large displays. Hinted at by an FCC filing in May, the Chromecast plugs straight into a TV, and can be controlled remotely via mobile devices or the Chrome browser over a local Wi-Fi connection.
Powered by USB, the Chromecast accepts controls from apps running on other local devices. Examples shown on stage included using the YouTube app on a smartphone to start playing a video -- and add more clips to the queue while the current video was playing -- as well as Google Play Music support, and displaying the contents of a tab in Chrome.
Rather than directly mirroring content from a remote screen, such as with Miracast, Chromecast fetches online content on its own for playback. This allows a smartphone or tablet user to change to different apps or turn the device off entirely without disturbing what is currently being played. Onstage it was shown to work on Android mobile devices and a "$500 Windows 8 laptop," and it's said to work with iOS and OS X as well. Windows Phone is not currently supported.
Aside from YouTube, Google Play, and remote Chrome tab projection, apps for Netflix and Pandora are also touted as working on the Chromecast. Software development kits are being offered for Android, Chrome, and iOS.
The Chromecast, complete with three months of Netflix, will be available through Google Play for $35 later today in the United States, with Amazon and Best Buy to stock it on July 28th. Google hopes to make it available in other countries as "quickly as possible."