All indications point to Google announcing its latest Chromecast during tomorrow’s hardware event. And I managed to buy one yesterday even before the “official” unveiling. So I can now confirm that, as the rumors and leaks have made clear over the last few weeks, this isn’t the Chromecast that most consumers are familiar with.
Instead of a no-frills TV dongle that plays content sent over from the apps on your phone or computer, the new Chromecast finally has a proper menu system and familiar user interface — and now it comes with an actual remote control.
It’s a Chromecast in name, but Google’s latest streaming device is actually powered by Android TV, which more closely resembles a Roku or Amazon Fire TV in how you use it. Apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max, and many others can be downloaded onto the Chromecast itself. You can browse them with the remote and start playing something without having to cast it from another device. It’s all very intuitive and easy to use.
But while Android TV is the foundation of the new Chromecast, the whole experience feels very new. Because unlike TVs from Sony and set-top boxes from Nvidia and other brands that run the traditional version of Android TV, Google has created a new “Google TV” layer atop the operating system that completely replaces the old home screen experience.
Instead of letting you customize the home screen (Android TV gives some apps like Netflix and YouTube their own dedicated rows that you can move around or get rid of), Google TV is all about aggregation. It brings