Google really, really wants Chromecast to get on your gift shopping list. So to sweeten the deal, the company just announced some brand new functionality for its $35 TV-streaming stick. Say hello to casual gaming and new premium channels.
If you already own a Chromecast TV-streaming device, congratulations! You have a new way to entertain (or distract) relatives on Turkey Day. Just call up a board game app on your mobile and fling it to your television. Compatible titles include Wheel of Fortune, Hasbro’s Monopoly Dash, Scrabble Blitz, Connect Four Quads and Simon Swipe. Or clear the furniture for Just Dance Now, test Grandma’s Web knowledge with Emoji Party, or crown the king or queen of useless knowledge with trivia game Big Web Quiz, which uses Google Knowledge Graph to create questions.
The game selection isn’t very extensive yet, and the offerings aren’t exactly console-worthy. But this debut set makes it easy to put some family-friendly fun on the big screen for your family and friends, while they use their mobile devices as directional or motion controllers.
The thumb-sized streaming gadget also boasts support from two new premium TV channels. Showtime Anytime and Starz join the fold, which is great news if you want to binge-watch Homeland or want to catch Outlander. Like the HBO GO app, these new streaming channels require a cable subscription—for now. Also like that competitor, Showtime will also debut a standalone streaming service independent of cable packages next year. (Starz may also do the same.)
Chromecast development has been ramping up this year, with literally hundreds of compatible apps now. To make it easier to wade through the pile, Google organized its Chromecast apps page with new categories covering compatible iPhone and Android apps. Now they’re sorted into New, TV & Movies, Music & Audio, Games, Sports, Media & Video and More.
Harking back to its launch, when Google bundled free Netflix services for Chromecast customers, the company’s sweetening the pot again—this time with two free months of Hulu Plus and 90 days of the Google Play All Access Music service. (Limited to Chromecast users who newly sign up for the services.)
Looks like Chromecast just leapt out of the stocking stuffer category and earned a primo place on primary gift lists.