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Leak: Chromecast continues Apple TV assault w/ new hardware, Spotify, ‘What’s On’ content curation, more

new-chromecaseAccording to internal Google documents that 9to5Google has obtained, huge updates to the Chromecast platform — in almost every respect — are just around the corner. The long-rumored 2nd generation Chromecast hardware is set to debut at Google’s event later this month with several brand new features, including “Chromecast Audio,” Spotify support (finally!), a brand new Chromecast companion app, and more. Here’s a roundup of everything we’ve learned so far…

2nd generation Chromecast

First up is the new Chromecast hardware itself, which you can see pictured above. Based on these images alone, it appears that the device is definitely a departure from the original model, leaving behind the true “dongle” form factor. That said, besides the fact that it comes in three colors, we still haven’t quite figured out what it is we’re looking at here. A balloon? A pair of ear muffs? Your guess is as good as ours. Google’s not only changing the appearance, though — this thing has a lot of changes coming to the inside as well.

While we haven’t seen the exact specifications of the new device, we have learned that one of the changes Google is bringing to this version is improved Wi-Fi, which could possibly mean support for the faster 802.11ac band. Phandroid previously surfaced FCC documents it claimed were for the next Nexus Player showing 802.11ac Wi-Fi support, but we’ve learned that those documents are actually describing this new Chromecast. The original Chromecast only supported 802.11b/g/n.

The 2nd generation Chromecast, which we’ve only seen referred to as the “new Chromecast,” is also going to include support for content feeds on the Chromecast home screen. It’s not clear yet what kind of “feeds” you’ll be able to add, but this probably means adding social media feeds or image feeds that can play when your Chromecast is in screensaver “backdrop” mode. Currently, the Chromecast backdrop is customizable in that you can toggle things like weather and art, as well as add your own personal photos.


There’s also a new feature called “Fast Play”. Presumably, along with the improved Wi-Fi features, “Fast Play” will allow Chromecast to establish a connection much quicker and play content more seamlessly when pressing the “Cast” button on a connected device. This is one area many users find frustrating with the current Chromecast, and if Google has made the experience anything close to this, Fast Play might be the device’s most compelling feature.

Not to be confused with Google Cast for Audio, which is Google’s platform for making speakers and other audio hardware directly compatible with the Chromecast protocols, Google is also planning to launch something called “Chromecast Audio”. According to the leaked documentation we’ve seen, it appears that this could allow your Chromecast to plug directly into any speaker by way of auxiliary cord, providing Chromecast support to any speaker or audio system in your home. This feature will, according to the documents, have multi-room support, the ability to mirror your Chrome or Android audio, and bring “high-quality” audio.

Update: We’ve learned that Chromecast Audio is indeed a second Chromecast device.

Spotify support


While Chromecast has long supported Google Play Music, Netflix, Pandora, and other subscription services, Spotify — one of the most popular music streaming services — has always been left off the list for Google’s device. According to leaked documents that 9to5Google has seen, Google is preparing a slew of Chromecast announcements for later this month, one of which being Spotify support for Chromecast.

Although Google offers its own Chromecast-supported streaming service in the form of Google Play Music, the company is clearly welcoming Spotify with open arms with this feature being a selling point of the new device. All the way back in 2014, Spotify said that it had no plans to support Chromecast and that it was focusing on its own “Connect” platform. Supporting Chromecast was never completely off the table, however, and now the feature seems all but certain.

Updated companion app

Based on the documents we’ve obtained, the new Chromecast app has at least a few notable additions over the current version (which is definitely very bare-bones in terms of features). First, there appears to be a section referred to as “What’s On,” which allows you to browse content offered through various Chromecast-supported apps. At least based on the screenshots and documents we’ve seen, the app will show you different movies, videos, and other content from within the apps you have installed on your device — not all too different from what Apple is offering with Siri and the new Apple TV coming next month.

UntitledOn top of suggesting actual content, the app also seems to have a screen that shows you which Chromecast apps you have installed and suggests Chromecast-supported apps available on the Play Store. The current version of the app also has a “Discover apps,” tab, but it redirects to a page within the Play Store app. The app seems to serve as more of an intelligent hub to all the Chromecast-castable content found within your apps.

Finally, as you can tell in the admittedly blurry images to the right, the app is getting a new user interface. While it might still have the sidebar found in the current version, there also seems to be a section with tabbed navigation like that which can be found in the Play Store app.

September 29th event

According to the documents, the device and its new app, as well as support for Spotify and “Chromecast Audio,” are all currently scheduled to be announced at the company’s September 29th event, the same day that the two new Nexus devices are rumored to launch. The device will presumably be priced similar to the first generation Chromecast, and documents we’ve seen show that it will launch in at least 10 countries around the world.

Tom Maxwell contributed to this report.

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  1. PhilBoogie - 8 years ago

    That is simply pathetic. To first wait for Apple to do their thing and await for what they have designed and then release it yourself a month afterwards is just … words cannot describe. I fully understand Apple when they say: “We don’t want to be the innovator for the rest of the world – we love competition!”

    • You know as well as I do that Google, Apple et al can’t just design, build and bring to market tech within a few weeks of seeing it somewhere else. May well have some of the same functionality, but let’s get real here – the IOS9/Watch OS2/iPadPro updates all have functionality which where available elsewhere too. The Apple Watch Time Travel function is a direct copy of the main functionality of the Pebble Time, which may be a direct copy of something else.

      Fact of the matter is everybody copies off someone else. Google do it, Apple do it, Microsoft do it. But you can’t cherry pick and say that if one company does it it’s pathetic, while if another company does it it’s not :)

    • Dolf Muccillo (@dolfer) - 8 years ago

      “Innovator?” The Apple TV doesn’t have 4K or HDR support. It is OUA – Obsolete Upon Arrival… The Fire TV announcement was exciting. They easily trumped Apple TV. P.S. I am an Apple fanboy most of the time… But after waiting so long for a hardware update, I’m very disappointed in the lack of features for that price.

      • Based on the astoundingly anemic 4K market I’m not completely surprised that the new Apple TV doesn’t support 4K. It’s easy to forget that Apple has plans to offer a subscription-based streaming TV service and since almost no one is offering 4K content (save for a show or on Netflix) it makes sense to wait until 4K video is more prevalent.

        Even with the lack of 4K content I still think Apple TV is the better device and better value. One thing that stands out for me is being able to conduct searches without interrupting what’s playing. Based on the tests I’ve seen if you want to search for something on Fire TV you have to stop what you’re doing. Clearly once Apple introduces their streaming TV service those overlays will be a big deal not to mention that it’ll be the biggest differentiator from all the other app-reliant set top boxes.

        Movies, apps, music, games, photos and streaming live TV in one box will set Apple TV apart from everyone else. Period.

      • Look at the adoption rate of consumers who have purchased 4K/UHD TVs, then tell us the AppleTV is obsolete. I agree, it would have been ideal if it supported 4K but I don’t plan on getting a 4K TV anytime soon; I’m not alone either. I think standards are still in flux so really, we should be more worried about our TVs being obsolete — those who have 4K Tvs that is. My 55″ 1080P has such a incredible picture. I’m not sure I really want 4K.

      • modeyabsolom - 8 years ago

        I believe 4K-UHD+HDR have an all encompassing standard now in place, or at least are very close to being standardised. With products conforming to the new standard becoming available over the next few months. So its all very close now. But I suppose Apple is still being cautious. This time next year I’m sure Apple will be onboard too. Maybe announcing 4K streaming themselves via iTunes at next year’s developers conference.

      • mechanic50 - 8 years ago

        See there is the problem with your argument. Apple simply just has not turned on the 4k ability of the new apple tv yet. It uses hdmi 1.4 out of the box which supports 4k resolution, The A8 already supports 4k that is a known fact, it does right now on the iPhone6. It simply is a matter of a software update to turn on 4k resolution when the market warrants it which right now it does not. There is no content available in true 4k resolution and don’t tell me that netflix is 4k, that crap there saying is 4k there serving up is garbage compared to true 4k. It is super compressed and looks like crap. On top of that both cores of the A8 are being supported unlike the current A5’s in the current apple tv’s that use one core. Also both cores in the A8 are running at full power all the time because of being powered by 120 ac, unlike on a cell phone where they have to constantly being put in power saving mode. You mark my words when 4k content becomes readily available apple will simply offer a software update to turn it on. Currently the codec for HEVC H.265 is waiting for hardware manufacturers to catch up so that it will become the delivery engine over the internet, 4k can’t currently be delivered to the masses in full glory because of its huge size. Funny thing though is that the A8 already supports and uses H.265 HEVC (high efficiency video coding) in FaceTime on the iPhone6. This is the same codec that 4k is presented in.

  2. gkbrown - 8 years ago

    Where is the “assault”? I didn’t see anything in this (fairly long-winded) article that seemed remotely innovative or different from what Apple, or any other company, is doing in this space.

    • lkrupp215 - 8 years ago

      Don’t you know by now? Implying Apple’s potential DOOM™ is the only way to get people to read tech blogs these days.

      • srgmac - 8 years ago

        It’s not predicting Apple’s doom as a company, it’s more along the lines of predicting their doom in this market — which has actually been the case over the years…Take Roku for example; they have dominated the Apple TV for a few years now, I believe. Roku — a dinky little company with less than 200 employees, has consistently delivered a better hardware and software experience in the TV STB market than Apple, a company with thousands of employees and billions of dollars. Does that seem right to you?

    • Stephen Hall - 8 years ago


  3. lkrupp215 - 8 years ago

    But does it have an optical audio out port? That’s a deal killer according to the whiner crowd complaining about the new Apple TV and it’s useless without that port.

  4. Steve32 - 8 years ago

    If they offer 4K streaming (considering YouTube has a growing 4K content especially now that the iPhone 6S records 4K video) it will make the new Apple TV less desirable to many people. I’m eagerly waiting to see what is offered. Another point, I think Apple should have included HDMI 2.0 and 4K output with the new Apple TV considering their top selling product records 4K and now comes w/ 4K video editing app.

  5. srgmac - 8 years ago

    Guys, it’s clear that Apple doesn’t care about the Apple TV — they just don’t. Remember how long it took them to just come out with a model that supported 1080p FFS? People back then said the same thing — “you don’t need 1080p! 720p is perfectly fine!” — all the while the entire industry is surpassing them in every way, companies are coming out with STBs left and right that destroy the functionality of the ATV. My guess is, it will be at least 1-2 years before Apple adds 4K support. They just don’t give a damn what anyone thinks about their TV products. Maybe if they had their own TV content, it would be different. But it’s clear from all the blogs the past few years, they are having much trouble coming to terms with the content owners…I am not even holding my breath for a launch of their TV service in 2016 — I think it will take much longer for it to arrive.

    • macnificentseven48 - 8 years ago

      Apple doesn’t really care about products that don’t make them lots of money. I don’t think it’s worth their time and effort. These side products are just filler for their main iPhone course. There’s probably nothing much at all inside AppleTV. No USB support, no SD card support, no optical audio output. Just the barest minimum of hardware to reap the highest amount of profit for themselves. I don’t care because I can always get some additional device for support so if Apple’s sells less devices that’s their choice and they probably don’t care if they do sell less AppleTVs because they’re only interested in iPhone sales.

  6. macnificentseven48 - 8 years ago

    Every consumer product is considered an assault on Apple. I mean, no company brings out products simply for their own benefit. They do it to challenge Apple… NOT! Why does every product a company puts out have to be a rivalry product? A person can own both products at this price range. No product does everything so there can be a need for other products. I think Chromecast was due for an upgrade as it’s been around for quite a while and hardware has certainly improved enough to get some new innards. I don’t think Chromecast has ever been a direct rival to AppleTV, Roku or Fire TV boxes. Doesn’t Google have a streaming box?

    • loungebob - 8 years ago

      Yeah they do. Nexus Player. Will most likely be updated too.
      But since I’ve played with the new Amazon Fire just released, nothing else really matters. Frekking awesome!

  7. modeyabsolom - 8 years ago

    If this article is accurate, then this is all rather underwhelming! I was expecting more from Google considering who they’re up against…
    Amazon’s recent announcements in this field were more interesting! So far then Apple needn’t be worried.


Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.