Google’s favorite little affordable dongle, Chromecast, is getting some major updates. Among a series of stats—available in 18 countries! Top selling device on Amazon! Etc.—Google said it’s making Chromecast app discovery much easier, and you can now broadcast to your TV without being on the same Wi-Fi network. Neat.
Google said users will always have control over what and who can cast to your TV. But, if you don’t trust someone with your Wi-Fi password, you can simply press a button to allow nearby devices to cast. That’s super convenient and handy for parties—you don’t have to worry about telling all of your buddies one-by-one what your complicated and embarrassing password is.
Chromecast is also getting a new ambient experience, meaning you can personalize your feed to better match your tastes. Not a huge deal, but certainly makes the device and experience more personal. You can even add your very own photos straight from, where else, Google+.
And when you’re not actually using your Chromecast, there’s a neat new feature called Backdrop, which basically shows a mix of news, weather and photos to your TV when you’re not Casting. If something of interest shows up in Backdrop, you can say, “What’s on that Chromecast,” and it’ll do a Google search and tell you. Whoa. Backdrop is scheduled to be available later this year.
Finally, Google also said Android devices can now be mirrored to your TV—there’s a new “cast screen” button, and Google said latency and frame drops have been reduced for a super slick experience. Google says you can mirror anything, even your camera app; samsung, Nexus, HTC and LG will support this new feature.