Chromecast Audio makes your speakers independent and smart | tech$features | Hindustan Times
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Chromecast Audio makes your speakers independent and smart

The Chromecast Audio can mirror what’s playing on your Android phone or Chrome browser, but that’s not all it does.

tech Updated: May 16, 2016 12:09 IST
Sanshey Biswas
The Chromecast Audio can mirror what’s playing on your Android phone or Chrome browser, but that’s not all it does.
The Chromecast Audio can mirror what’s playing on your Android phone or Chrome browser, but that’s not all it does.

The Chromecast Audio has been around for a while but made it to India recently and it does one thing — play music on your speakers wirelessly — and does it well. Some would argue that you’d rather use Bluetooth to play music wirelessly considering its a widely available feature and costs much less. But Bluetooth has its issues — drains your phone’s battery, doesn’t allow multiple users and doesn’t promise the best quality possible. While Chromecast eliminates most of them, it remains plagued by one — only apps supporting Chromecast Audio can stream to the device. While most popular apps support the Chromecast, some apps you might be using daily, like Apple Music don’t.

How does it work?

The Chromecast Audio can mirror what’s playing on your Android phone or Chrome browser, but that’s not all it does. It connects to the WiFi and streams music all by itself once instructed what to play. So, your phone is free to make calls, browser websites, text and nothing other than the music you cast will play on the speakers connected to the Chromecast Audio via a 3.5 mm jack, RCA or optical cable. The tiny hockey puck-shaped Chromecast Audio also needs a power supply and luckily, you get a charger and a really long cable in the Rs 3,399 package.

The Setup

Hookup your Chromecast Audio to the speaker and charger before long-pressing the only button on it. Once the colour changes, open the Chromecast app (available for Android and iOS). In the devices section of the app, select the Chromecast to be setup, help it connect to WiFi and set its name by following the self explanatory steps. The Google Cast app isn’t necessary for casting, but just for setting up the device. All that’s left to do is open an app that has the cast feature and play a song or playlist before clicking on the cast button and starting the stream.

Guests can just queue the music they want to play to the Chromecast Audio at your place by looking for the devices nearby, or using the 4-digit code unique to the Chromecast Audio attached to your speakers at home.

You can also cast audio to the Chromecast from the Chromebook or Chrome browser on Mac or Windows. On installing the Google Cast extension, you’ll be able to mirror any open tab in the browser.

However, the cast option for YouTube doesn’t work with Chromecast Audio. While it makes sense for Google to limit Chromecast Audio’s compatibility to music app, it’s extremely disappointing. Because, if you want to keep the speakers connected to the Chromecast Audio at all times, you won’t be able to stream the audio from a movie to the speakers. Instead you’ll use the Chromecast attached to your TV to steam the audio too. Maybe, that is a business strategy.

What’s Unique?

You can group multiple Chromecasts around the house, hooked to different speakers so that all of them play the same music. Music that it streams directly from the WiFi connection in quality as high as lossless. And the best part is that despite the quality of the music, you don’t have to worry about the distance between the phone and speaker being too much, since WiFi is a much faster technology and the Chromecast is doing all the job. The phone essentially turns into a remote.

The Chromecast will also make your job as the host of a party much easier. Your guests, instead of requesting songs, can just queue the music they want to play to the Chromecast Audio at your place by looking for the devices nearby, or using the 4-digit code unique to the Chromecast Audio attached to your speakers at home. Overall, it proves to be a superior choice over Bluetooth to make your speakers smart and self-sufficient including those old ones too without a Bluetooth option.