Google announced a new device, dubbed Chromecast, at a press event in San Francisco today. The tiny dongle plugs into an HDMI input on a TV and connects to Wi-Fi, allowing users to stream video directly to their TVs from other devices—without requiring matching operating systems.
Interfaces will now present a "cast" button that, when clicked, will send the video from a PC, tablet, or smartphone to the television. Playback can then be controlled by the device sending the video.
During the demo, Google was able to send a YouTube video playing on a Nexus 4 or the new Nexus 7 to a TV in an off state. The video seamlessly appeared on the TV. Google clarified that since Chromecast interacts directly with YouTube so the phone doesn't have to sustain the stream.
The Chromecast works with a mix of devices and is reliant on Google and Google-approved apps, rather than the Android operating system. This means iPhones will be able to interact with the Chromecast via a "cast" button as well. The only non-Google video app compatible with the Chromecast at launch will be Netflix, allowing users to throw a Netflix show from another device to the TV.
To swap between devices to control the television, users can just pick up another tablet or smartphone and open the relevant app. The device will detect that the Chromecast is playing something from that app and offer the user the opportunity to control it.
The Chromecast will also work with music apps, specifically Google Music and Pandora. Google stated that a feature allowing users to project "any Chrome tab" to the Chromecast is in beta. Otherwise, the Chromecast requires no special hardware and will work with "most laptops and OSes," the company said.