Google takes aim at Apple TV with Chromecast

Chase Kell
Google takes aim at Apple TV with Chromecast

Google is at it again.

The tech giant, which continues to carve out its reputation as the "killer" of Apple products, recently unveiled Chromecast, an HDMI stick that streams music, movies, TV shows — just about anything one can stream — to your HDTV. All for the measly price of $35.

[ Related: Google gets deeper into hardware with new tablet, TV gadget ]

So, if you've recently purchased an Apple TV, or perhaps a Roku streaming player, I hope you've kept your receipt.

Set-top streaming boxes such as Apple TV and Roku can run you a cost north of $100; Chromecast rings in at nearly a third of that cost. Apple TV, outside of its own apps, can only stream content from Apple computers and devices. Chromecast allows streaming from a host of devices: iPhones, iPads, Macs, PCs, and of course Android phones and tablets, just to name a few.

"Third-party streaming boxes are dead," exclaims Benedict Evans, consultant at Enders Analysis in London, in a Huffington Post story. "Why would you spend $100 to get basically the same thing when you can spend $35 to get something you can control with your phone."

As you might expect, Chromecast is compatible with YouTube, Netflix, Google Play and the Chrome browser — and reports indicate that Pandora is coming soon.

With Chromecast, users can immediately send content from their device to their TV using the "cast" button, which will be present on all apps that support Chromecast, including the Chrome browser.

But as Evans notes, Chromecast does fall short in certain areas: much of the content viewed on Chromecast originates from the cloud, so if you're looking to stream a video recorded on your iPhone to you TV, you would first have to upload the video to YouTube.

More so, Apple TV allows for mirroring, a feature that displays your iOS device's screen on to your Apple TV. And as The Verge was quick to note, mirroring does not work with Chromecast.

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Another downfall for Apple users is that Chromecast doesn't work with iTunes, which means you'll be streaming music and renting movies from Google Play All Access and the Google Play Store, respectively.

"The crucial point is you can pick holes in the user experience," Evans shares, "but it's a great idea, well-executed at a compelling price.

"And it bats the ball back to Apple: What's the next version of the Apple TV?"

Chromecast is available on Google Play (but no word on when Canadians can order it).