Tag Archives: Google

Google Announces Chromecast

chromecast-hed-2013Less than two months after launching experimental internet balloons into the Earth’s stratosphere, Google is once again taking another step toward dominating the digital world.  Last Wednesday (24 July), the digital media giant announced the release of its video streaming device Chromecast.  Compatible with laptops, tablets, and mobile phones (Android and iOS), the 5 cm-long gadget plugs into an HDMI port on an HDTV and streams video from the mobile device (acting as a remote) to the TV. 

Although Chromecast lacks the breadth of content (it’s currently only able to stream YouTube, Google Play, and Netflix) that other streaming devices such as Apple TV have, it comes at a fraction of the cost.  The thumb drive-sized device has a retail price of US$35 (S$45), compared to Apple TV’s price of US$99 (S$125).  With more streaming content expected to become available for Chromecast – such as Pandora – we shouldn’t be surprised to see it compete with the big dogs of video streaming.

However, Chromecast’s real advantage over other devices is its multi-screen capability, says Janko Roettgers:

“Chromecast synchronizes media playback across multiple devices, making it possible for you to launch the playback of a Netflix movie on your TV with the help of your phone, then turn off that phone and launch the app on your iPad to pause the movie. That’s simply not possible with [Apple TV's] AirPlay today, and it puts pressure on Apple to add more features.”

Google obviously modeled Chromecast’s simplicity after AirPlay, but, naturally, made improvements.  AirPlay only works with Apple products, and even then there are certain software requirements (I know from experience how frustrating it is to find a cool video on a Macbook and not be able to stream it through AirPlay).

Chromecast sold out on both Amazon and the Google Play store within a day of the release, and is still out of stock on Amazon.  However, Amazon will ship the device anywhere, so we Asian consumers must only wait until Amazon gets another shipment to have one of our own.

Referenced from CNN.com, gigaom.com, and asia.cnet.com

Google Using Balloons for Internet

fajb_google_balloons_01_june2013

On June 11, Google researchers released around 30 test balloons above Christchurch, New Zealand to see how effectively they would broadcast an internet signal from attached radio antennae.  The balloons, which reached a maximum altitude of about 20 kilometres, are part of Google’s new endeavour, Project Loon, which will seek to provide internet to the entire globe.

The first connection made to a balloon was by a New Zealand farmer, who said it lasted about 15 minutes, until the balloon he was connected to floated out of range.

Google says its technology, although young, carries huge, positive societal implications:

“It is [in its] very early days, but we think a ring of balloons, flying around the globe on the stratospheric winds, might be a way to provide affordable Internet access to rural, remote, and underserved areas down on earth below, or help after disasters, when existing communication infrastructure is affected.”

The company adds that the connection provided by the balloons would run at speeds comparable to those found on a 3G connection today.  Google’s aim is to provide internet to those who currently do not have access to it – about two-thirds of the world’s population. The company has provided no timeframe for the project’s completion.  

The successful implementation of Project Loon would no doubt usher in a new era of global human connection and would dictate our future in ways that we may not be able to fully comprehend.

Full article at Channel NewsAsia