Google has made more than one attempt to get into your living room over the years, with the ill-fated Google TV platform coming first, followed later by its Chromecast media player. And then again with Android TV in 2014, a more feature-filled platform than Chromecast. However, of all these efforts, it is the Chromecast that has had the most success. First, it’s cheap. Second, it doesn’t rely on heavy interfaces and remotes. All you need is a phone or tablet to make all the action happen.
Over the last few years, “Google cast” technology has trickled into other products including the Chromecast 2, Chromecast Audio, speakers, and even Televisions. To reflect this evolution into other arenas outside of its diminutive dongle, Google is now rebranding its Chromecast app to “Google Cast”.
The new rebranded app is rolling out now and should see a complete rollout in the next few weeks. Other than the branding change, nothing else appears to be different with this latest app update. It is worth mentioning that this rebranding also applies to the Chromecast website, and reflects that Google is now simply billing Chromecast as one way to get involved in the “Google Cast” platform.
In addition to announcing the rebranding of its app and website, Google has also announced Vizio’s new SmartCast P-Series 4K television series is packing in built-in “Google Cast” functionality as its sole means of providing a ‘smart’ TV experience.
The new P-Series forgoes the traditional remote experience, instead bundling a 6-inch Android tablet that not only lets you use all your Google Cast-compatible apps to quickly throw content to your new TV, but there’s also a special Vizio SmartCast app that allows you to control volume, change inputs, and do all the other basic TV controlling right from the tablet. Of course for those who don’t want to use the included tablet, any phone or tablet will work with the new TV sets for Google casting.
The idea of a ‘smart TV’ without a UI and its own included apps seems a bit strange, but the good news is that by keeping the apps “off the TV”, you don’t have to worry about the pre-bundled apps not receiving updates, or becoming slow and unusable with time – as often tends to be the case with Smart TV UIs anyhow.
The big takeaway is that Google is working hard to make Google Cast an integral part of our living room experience, and we imagine that its partnership with Vizio is only the beginning. Considering the low-cost of the technology involved to make Google Cast work, we can imagine many other TV and entertainment device makers getting onboard with Google in the future.
What do you think of “Google Cast”, do you like controlling the experience from your phone/tablet, or do you prefer a traditional remote/UI experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.