Google’s Chromecast product line has stood out for years among streaming hardware because, unlike Roku or Apple TV, it’s never had remotes or real user interfaces. That changes now.
Google announced the 4K and HDR-compatible Chromecast with Google TV during its “Launch Night In” event on Wednesday. If you’ve ever used a Chromecast before, the new additions will be abundantly clear: Google finally, finally included a Google Assistant-enabled voice remote, so you no longer have to control your streaming content with a phone. In addition to that, Google concocted a new UI called Google TV, which is making its debut with this new $50 Chromecast, available today.
Not to diminish the addition of a remote, but Google TV is probably the biggest new feature here. It’s a centralized interface that uses Google’s technology to study what you watch and come up with recommendations for the For You tab (pictured above). That tab populates with content from different streaming services based on your viewing tastes. You can either go directly to a show or movie from Google TV, or load into an app and search around in there like you would on any other device.
Oh, and Google Play Movies & TV on Android phones has now been renamed Google TV to reflect these changes.
Another bit of housekeeping involves Google Stadia, the cloud gaming service Google launched last year. Stadia primarily works on TVs through the Chromecast Ultra, but surprisingly the Chromecast with Google TV doesn’t support it yet. Google says Stadia support is coming in 2021.
By adding a remote and a UI, Google’s made the Chromecast a little less unique. In doing so, however, it might have also made the new Chromecast a more appealing option for the less tech-savvy among us. At just $50, this could be an easy way for folks who haven’t yet made the 4K jump to finally upgrade.