Google is making its $35 Chromecast more appealing to stockings and family rooms this holiday season, as the search engine company has backed the streaming video stick with support for board games and Showtime's app.
Google inflated its selection of Chromecast-supported apps up to nearly 60. Games to keep family members focused on the same screen includes titles such as Wheel of Fortune, Scrabble Blitz, Emoji Party, Monopoly Dash, Connect 4 Quads, Simon Swipe and Big Web Quiz.
"Chromecast uses your phone or tablet as the controller and your TV screen like a game or score board to let you play games like Wheel of Fortune or classics like Hasbro's Monopoly Dash, Scrabble Blitz, Connect Four Quads and Simon Swipe on your big screen," says Google's Wendi Zhang, who wears the title of "three-peat Scrabble champ."
To work off that tryptophan, Google has also made Just Dance Now available for Chromecast. Like the other games mastered for Chromecast, dancers can use just about any smartphone to show off their moves in front of people most likely to reserve judgment up until maybe the point of twerking.
"Your smartphone can tell if you're fist pumping high or shaking your hands down low, which earns you points," says Zhang.
Big Web Quiz is another potential hit at family gatherings this holiday season. The game leverages Google's Knowledge Graph which, when paired with loud music and televised sporting events, could bring the magic of trivia nights home.
When the weather outside turns frightful, premium TV subscribers can stream their favorite Showtime series to any modern TV or monitor via the Showtime Anytime app. For those already caught up on Homeland or who simply aren't in the mood to watch Carrie take a big gamble on a whim, Chromecast also supports Starz Play.
"Nothing says winter like a TV binge on a cold, gray day," says Zhang.
With the Chromecast's new collection of games and support for Showtime Anytime, the streaming video stick gains a bit more ammunition to fend off Amazon's rival offering. The Fire TV Stick, as its called, boasts a selection of more than 200 games, which is a collection twice as large as Roku's Streaming Stick.
The Fire Stick, priced at $39, is fitted with 8 GB of local storage, twice the amount the Chromecast offers and about 30 times as robust as the $49 Roku Streaming Stick's flash storage. Amazon's offering also includes a dual-processor, while its rivals are equipped with single-core logic systems.