Google cranks up Chromecast Audio music streaming: Now there's multi-room playback

As well as rolling out high-resolution audio support, Google now lets you use its Chromecast Audio device to play the same tune in several rooms.

The new multi-room feature lets users set up a group of Chromecast Audio devices and sync music on multiple speakers.

Image: Google

A software update for Google's $35 Chromecast Audio music-streaming device lets users play the same song in every room of the house.

The update addresses a feature-gap in Chromecast Audio that dates from its launch in September and which limited music playback to one input per device.

Chromecast Audio lets users stream music from a variety of iOS and Android music apps to any speaker with an audio jack. Supported apps include Spotify, Google's Play Music, Deezer and others.

Multi-room synchronization was planned from the outset, with the feature due to be delivered as an update after the product went on sale.

The new multi-room feature lets users set up a group of Chromecast Audio devices and sync music on multiple speakers. Owners will need to install the latest version of the Chromecast app to create a group.

Setting up a group requires going into the Chromecast app, which displays the Chromecast Audio devices available. The default group is labelled Home but users can rename it and add or remove speakers from the group. The app then displays which speakers are in the group, such as Kitchen or Bedroom.

At $35 a unit, Chromecast Audio makes for an appealing option to anyone who's been pining for Sonos' wireless speakers but have baulked at the price.

Google also aims to close any gap between the two on sound quality, rolling out high-resolution audio support of up to 96kHz/24bit lossless audio playback.

That's higher quality audio than CD. But while that is impressive, it remains to be seen how many devices can be synced at this rate. And, as ZDNet's sister site CNET points out, streaming at this rate could cause an overhead on the wireless network.

Chromecast Audio adds one more hook for Google into households as it ploughs ahead with ambitions to use Android's dominance in mobile to become a platform player in the Internet of Things.

On the home devices front, Chromecast Audio joins Google's smart thermostat, Nest, the Nexus Player, and OnHub smart router.

More on Google