Aside from Android Wear devices, Google had more cards up its proverbial sleeves at its recent Google I/O 2014 keynote. Chromecast, their own streaming media dongle, is getting updated in order to support new features. The most notable change that this Chromecast update will bring is the Android Device Mirroring feature.
If you?re not familiar with this tech, Chromecast is Google?s much-loved $ 35 dongle. Users can plug this to their TV?s HDMI port which will in turn stream video, audio, and other contents from their mobile devices.
Chromecast Director of Product Management, Rishi Chandra, performed a demo during the Google I/O event. He showed how the Chromecast update works in real time. The new offering called Android Device Mirroring, which is still in beta, allows users to cast their tablet or phone?s display to the Chromecast-enhanced TV screen. In Chandra?s demo, the feature appears to be pretty smooth and responsive ? he even repeatedly switched the phone?s display from landscape to portrait and the TV screen responds immediately.
One practical adjustment that this Chromecast update will carry over is the new method for pairing devices. Previously, users need to have their devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network in order to pair them. But now, users will only need to enter a PIN to authenticate other users even if they aren?t on the same Wi-Fi network or if they only use their device?s cellular connection (i.e. 3G or 4G).
Meanwhile, another feature called ?Backdrop? is intended to help users get the most out of their Chromecast dongles when they?re not streaming music or watching videos. The updated Chromecast app for Android (and iOS too) will allow users to stream images from their Google+ accounts along with other contents such as weather updates and news headlines. Every ?backdrop? may also come with a host of other information as well ? users need only to use Google Now and ask ?What?s on my Chromecast?? and the images on screen will be accompanied by other details coming from Google.
Much to the disappointment of Android users, the Android Device Mirroring will be a hardware-specific feature; it will only be supported by device models from Samsung, LG, HTC, and Nexus. But this is expected to be a temporary condition. According to Google, the upcoming Chromecast update will be rolled out this summer; an exact release date has not been given.