One of the first popular streaming devices available was the Google Chromecast that was launched in 2013. Google followed up with the Chromecast Ultra in 2016, which supports 4K streaming and HDR up to the Dolby Vision standard. Although popular, the devices aren’t quite as well-received as the Fire TV and Apple TV ranges of streaming devices. A new report now suggests that Google is working on a second-generation Chromecast Ultra, a 4K HDR streaming device running on Android TV.
According to a report by 9to5Google, Google is planning to launch the second-generation Chromecast Ultra sometime this year. The device will function differently from previous Chromecast devices, running Android TV and working as a standalone streaming device. The device will also ship with a remote to control the interface, and will be capable of streaming 4K and HDR content.
The new Chromecast Ultra will also have the standard Google Cast capabilities, along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Google is also likely to include Google Assistant capabilities on the device, with a dedicated button on the remote, which will also have a microphone to listen for voice commands. While there are plenty of Android TV-based streaming devices, an official Google device will likely get around some of the typical problems associated with these type of products, including limited app availability and performance issues. Nexus Player was the last Android TV device to have Google’s involvement.
The 9to5Google report further states that the design of the new Chromecast Ultra will be like that of the existing Google Chromecast 3. The device will plug into the HDMI port of any display, and will also need to be powered through a separate USB connection.
Existing Chromecast devices are not standalone streaming devices; instead, they rely on a compatible smartphone to act as a controller. Users can select content on a smartphone through a compatible app, and cast content directly to the Chromecast. The device will then fetch the content independently from a server and play it on screen. Apart from dedicated Chromecast devices such as the Google Chromecast 3 and Chromecast Ultra, many smart TVs come with built-in Chromecast to enable the functionality.
The report doesn’t state when the device will be launched, and Google hasn’t commented on this either. While it might have initially been planned for launch at Google I/O 2020, the cancellation of that event due to Coronavirus concerns puts the launch timeline in question.