Chromecast duo extends Google's reach further into the living room

First update to Chromecast in two years, along with new Chromecast Audio

The new Chromecast

The new Chromecast

Google continues to extend its reach into the living room with the unveiling of two second-generation Chromecasts.

The new Chromecast represents the first update to the popular streaming device since July of 2013. The original proved a hit with 20 million being sold globally.

The design of the succeeding model represents an immediate departure by being circular in form and having an HDMI cable integrated into its body. The shape facilitates Google's redesigned antenna system, which will improve the quality of content streaming.

Content can be cast quicker to the second-generation Chromecast. Various applications will be able to anticipate content casting for quicker start-up times. Open the Netflix application when on the same Wi-Fi network, for instance, and it will automatically ready a casting connection, even before the cast button it hit.

New to the streaming device is the companion What’s On application. Content from various apps installed on smartphones will have their content aggregated for a one stop content library.

Playback controls have also been integrated into in a bid to make the Chromecast more convenient to use.

Games can be played on the Chromecast with smartphones being used as the controller, taking advantage of their touch screens and in-built accelerometer. The Chromecast is compatible with more than one device at a time in a move that enables multiplayer gaming.

A second streaming dongle was unveiled specifically for music casting called Chromecast Audio. Its circular design is complemented by grooves in a salute to the vinyl music medium.

A number of audio applications will support casting to Android devices, including Pandora and Spotify.

Google will launch the Chromecast and Chromecast Audio in 17 countries with pricing respectively starting from $US35 and $US75. Local Australian availability and pricing has yet to be confirmed.

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