Google is making life much easier for fans of that nifty functionality called Google Cast, all thanks to a much more polished interface.
Users who would like to stream content via Chromecast — from their device to a TV or any other enabled gadget, for that matter — can soon do away with installing a separate Google Cast extension into their Chrome browser.
Google is streamlining the process of "broadcasting" from device to device by baking the Google Cast feature straight into Chrome. This will make it easy for users to locate the feature and beam content from one gadget to another.
The change will come by way of Chrome 51. Although still in beta, the browser's latest version will include the Cast functionality in that simple dropdown menu where all other user-friendly tools in the browser are kept. Users just need to click "Cast" from among the options.
Other Cast-related ingredients, such as quality, bitrate and screen resolution, are not part of this streamlined toolbar because, according to Google, the technology now adjusts them automatically based on "your content and the quality of your network."
Users who did end up installing the extension in the past can still maximize the original Google Cast toolbar since it will stay in use.
"If you previously installed the Google Cast toolbar icon, there's no need to remove it," Google says. "The toolbar icon will continue to provide quick access to Google Cast functionality."
Of course, an even easier way to start casting is simply to right-click a tab on the browser.
Another useful update still in the pipeline is the ability to "mirror" Chrome tab contents on Google Hangouts. Conversations on the platform already allow screensharing, but Google Cast may prove useful when showcasing only specific browser content as opposed to a person's entire desktop, as Karissa Bell of Mashable notes.
The move toward a built-in Cast feature comes vis-à-vis Chromecast's own design and functionality updates, so that it "supports the latest Wi-Fi standards and adapts more easily to changing Wi-Fi conditions in your home," Google says. This, in turn, leads to less buffering and higher quality videos.
In the first quarter of 2016, Chromecast sold 3.2 million units, almost twice as many as Apple TV's 1.7 million shipments in the same period, but this is due in part to the two products' considerable price difference. Chromecast sells for $35, while the Apple TV starts at $149.
What all this shows is Google's triad of strategies: Google Cast's easy-to-use interface and the Chrome browser's native support for casting; upgrades to the Chromecast hardware; and, of course, a consumer-friendly price.