Google revealed at Google I/O 2014 today that their Chromecast devices will be getting a major update over the coming months. The new features come on the heels of a 40% increase in usage and an explosion in the number of apps, now numbering at least 6,000 which can be discovered via chromecast.com/apps. One of the big changes that owners of Chromecast devices will notice is the ability to cast without being on the same WiFi network. To accomplish this, authentication will now be handled out in the cloud. Users will still be able to control who is allowed to connect in this manner. This new feature will rollout later this summer.
Once a Chromecast is fired up and displayed on your TV, users may also notice a new look courtesy of the new Backdrop feature Google is going to add. Backdrop lets users control what is displayed on the home screen instead of the stock images provided by Google. You can still get data from Google although the sources will be expanded to include Art, Place or Lifestyle choices. However, users will also be able to add their own photo albums to display those. Users will also be able to add some content to the home screen, like a weather feed or some news items so the screen is not just a statis screensaver. In a neat little twist, Google also showed how Google Now can be used to provide more information about what is being displayed on the home screen by asking “OK Google…what’s on my Chromecast?”
Finally, Google is adding a native ability to mirror any Android device to Chromecast. This feature will be accessed via the Chromecast app by selecting “Cast Screen.” Google says they have improved latency issues to such an extent that even an app like the camera can be cast. Initially this capability will only be available on the newest Android devices, but should expand to others quickly. Like the other improvements, the new mirroring will be available later this summer.
Stick around for more Google I/O 2014 coverage.