At a live-streamed press event today, Google announced Chromecast: a new USB-sized device that allows users to stream videos and browser tabs directly to their TV from any device. It’s available today. Oh, and it’s only US$35.
They saved this groundbreaking reveal for the end, though. First, Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai—who oversees Android, Chrome and Google Apps—unveiled the new Nexus 7, which comes complete with upgrades and additions to the entire suite of apps and the Play Store, including the new Google Play Textbooks and Google Play Games.
Despite the impressive features of the new Nexus 7, Chromecast won the day. The device turns every TV into a smart TV, using any Android, or any iOS phone, tablet or laptop, as a remote control. After syncing the devices through local Wi-Fi, users simply click the “cast” button to play videos, tabs or music on their screen. Google demonstrated by playing YouTube and Netflix videos and audio from Pandora.
Chromecast is immediately available for purchase on Google Play, Amazon and Best Buy (and they’ll be available in Best Buy’s retail stores on July 28). The $35 purchase also comes with a three-month Netflix trial. Even more importantly, Google will soon release Google Cast SDK to allow developers to tailor streaming for other apps.
On the Nexus 7 side, the new tablet will be available on July 30, with Android 4.3, the newest version of Jelly Bean. The new screen offers 1920×1200 pixels as opposed to 1280×800, and the RAM jumps from 1GB to 2GB. It also adds a 5-megapixel camera in the back to go along with a 1.2 megapixel camera in the front. As far as pricing, a Wi-Fi-only model goes for $229, a 32GB Wi-Fi-only model for $269, and a 32GB LTE-capable model for $349.
Called “the power of Google in your hand,” the new Nexus 7 boasts enhanced versions of Google Drive and Google Maps, but more importantly a Google Play Textbooks feature. Marketed at college students, the app allows easy purchase and storage of e-textbooks, an alternative to carrying a pile of them around.
On top of that is the debut of Google Play Games, incorporating Google+ circles into your gaming friends list, and demonstrating incredibly detailed graphics in games like Prince of Persia and Asphalt 8.
Pichai preached simplicity as the foundation of today’s reveals, but especially in regard to Chromecast. Designed to work across screens and platforms in an instant, it bridges the gap between online and television video consumption. The HDMI cable just went out of style.