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Google launches new Chromecast, Chromecast Audio in ANZ

Australian and New Zealand customers can now update their Chromecast device with the latest offering from Google, as well as stream music to speakers wirelessly.

Google has launched its updated Chromecast and new Chromecast Audio products in Australia and New Zealand, offering improved Wi-Fi connections for higher-quality streaming.

The Chromecast has undergone a redesign, now featuring a round shape with an extended cable for easier access to congested TV HDMI ports.

According to Mickey Kim, head of Asia-Pacific Partnerships, Chromecast & TV at Google Australia, the new Chromecast has "dramatically improved Wi-Fi functionality" over the previous one, featuring three antennas. The Wi-Fi chip then selects the best antenna to use based on the present Wi-Fi environment.

Google has also redesigned the Chromecast app, with Kim calling it the "hub of your online entertainment". It now features a list of scrollable content from the entertainment apps installed on a users' phone, including Netflix, Stan, Twitch, Presto, and YouTube, and suggests other apps that could be installed and used through the Chromecast.

The change brings it more into line to compete with the Apple TV.

The device now also leverages the smartphone as a gaming controller, allowing multiple people to connect their phones to the Chromecast for multi-player games that are casted to the TV.

The new Chromecast will cost AU$59, but will set New Zealand customers back by NZ$69. It is available from Thursday at major retailers in both countries, as well as on Google's online store.

The coral and lemonade colour options are available from Friday through the Google store.

Google's brand new product, the Chromecast Audio, allows users to stream music, radio, and podcasts over Wi-Fi by plugging into speakers in the home with an audio jack. Music-streaming services such as Spotify, Google Play Music, and Pandora all work with the Audio, with iOS and Android devices both able to use it.

The Chromecast Audio is designed to have a look and feel reminiscent of a vinyl record, with a lemonade-yellow cable.

It is exclusively available through JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Kogan, and the Google Store for AU$59 in Australia. By comparison, in the US, it is available for $35 after being launched in September last year.

Google's parent company Alphabet published its fourth-quarter financial results at the beginning of February, reporting a net income of $4.923 billion on revenue of $17.3 billion.

"We're excited about the opportunities we have across Google and Other Bets to use technology to improve the lives of billions of people," Ruth Porat, chief financial officer for both Alphabet and Google, wrote in the earnings report.

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