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Google preparing Chromecast, a media streaming product similar to Apple’s Airplay?

Information gleaned from Google’s support pages and the latest update to the Play Music app suggests that Chromecast is a service that will let users stream media from their mobile devices to TVs and other equipment.
July 24, 2013
Google-IO-2013 Pixel chromebook 1600 aa

You might remember that a rumor made the rounds a few weeks back about a so called Chromekey, which was supposedly a dongle that would extend Chrome functionality to TVs and monitors. No other leaks followed until a few hours ago, when somebody spotted an entry on Google’s devices support page for a product named Chromecast. It’s not clear if Chromecast and Chromekey are the same thing, but the concepts seem similar.

The entry has been taken down after news broke about it, but according to Droid Life, a Google support representative told an inquisitive customer that Chromecast is a type of “TV service” that will only be available in certain areas and to users of certain devices.

Some further clarification comes from the analysis of an updated Play Music APK, which Google began to rollout ahead of the “breakfast with Sundar Pichai” event where the new Nexus 7, Android 4.3, and, very likely, Chromecast are going to be announced. According to the folks at Android Police, the new app contains numerous references to Chromecast, which will apparently be a service similar to Apple’s Airplay.

Users will be able to select a song from the Play library and send it to a compatible device (possibly via a Chromecast dongle) for playback. AP says that this isn’t actually streaming media like Airplay, because users will only be able to play media from Google’s cloud and not from the local storage of their devices. In other words, Chromecast would work similarly to the defunct Nexus Q – users simply use their mobile devices to direct the Chromecast device to stream music from Google Play. The Send to TV function of the Android YouTube app works in the same way.

To wrap it up, the oddly named Chromecast (it’s not clear what the service has to do with Chrome for now) appears to refer to both a hardware device that connects to TVs or speakers and to the software that connects mobile devices to the “dongle”.

Regardless what Chromecast is, we’ll probably learn all about it in about five hours. Stay tuned.