After selling 20 million Chromecast dongles, Google updated the product with a second edition and also added a way to turn old speakers into connected music players.
For the same $35 price tag as before, the new Chromecast has a round look and integrated HDMI connector, plus it comes in a trio of colors. It's what's on the inside that's really different though.
Chromecast now supports dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a steep upgrade from the original model's 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n radio. Even better: Google has integrated an adaptive antenna inside this year's Chromecast to help with weak signals.
The company compared both its old and new Chromecast wireless throughput against other content streamers and the test results look promising.
To improve the viewing experience with a Chromecast, Google is reducing the time it takes to get a video playing. A new fast play technique begins pre-loading content to reduce initial buffering. Google says it is working with various content partners to add the feature.
On the sound side of things, Google has a new $35 Chromecast Audio device that connects to any home speakers through a 3.5 millimeter audio jack, RCA or optical cable. Essentially, Chromecast Audio turns legacy speakers into connected ones, using Wi-Fi to stream audio.
More than 100 apps will work with Chromecast Audio including Pandora, Google Music and a new addition: Spotify. Sometime after launch, Google will be updating the product to support multi-room, synchronized playback.