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Google Chromecast Has Stronger Wi-Fi, New Shape, Same Low Price

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Google Chromecast, the company's popular low-priced living room streaming device, got a colorful update today. Version two comes in three colors (coral, yellow, and black) and features a round shape. It needs that extra room to hold the updated Wi-Fi architecture: it can now connect over 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi for a stronger connection. Onboard intelligence directs it to automatically move to the best wireless signal available.

With the Chromecast, the interface is on the user's mobile phone, so the Chromecast app is getting an update, as well. While the previous app was primarily used to sign into the Chromecast, the update includes strong search and discovery features. That gives a helping hand to viewers who aren't sure what's out there to watch. As before, viewers can cast (meaning send a stream from their device to the TV) from Android and iOS devices, Mac and Windows laptops, and Chromebooks.

Chromecast developers can now build Fast Play into their apps. This feature queues up content automatically that the viewer might like so that it begins playing without any buffering.

One thing that hasn't changed is the price. The Chromecast is still $35. The new version is available starting today in 17 countries.

With Chromecast a hit for video, Google decided to give audio the same treatment. The company unveiled the first ever Chromecast Audio (also $35) Similarly shaped, this device plugs into any speaker with a 3.5mm, RCA, or optical input to allow wireless music casting. Listeners can stream music from Google Play Music, Spotify, and other sources. The tech press is calling it a Sonos-killer. It's certainly a far less expensive option. It's also available today.

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