Users of Google Chrome may have noticed an interesting change to their browser over the past week: Google Cast capabilities are now built-in and no longer require an extension.
Oh, how I wish that Google Cast capabilities were built into Windows: The solution Microsoft supports, called Miracast, is a minefield of unreliability and poor performance, despite being a standard of sorts. But in my experience, Google Cast just works, and Miracast does not.
Google Cast capabilities are available via inexpensive Chromecast and Chromecast Audio dongles, which add AV streaming to your HDTV and audio streaming to your powered speakers, respectively. The technology is likewise supported by media apps on both Android and iOS, and many hardware partners are selling speakers and TVs with Google Cast built-in.
By adding Google Cast directly to Chrome, Google is at least sort of making this technology available on Windows, and with less effort than before. For example, in Tip: Use Groove with Chromecast, I explained how Windows users can stream, or “cast,” Groove music content to a Chromecast or Chromecast Audio device using the web-based version of the service in Chrome.
“Casting from Chrome has become incredibly popular,” Google says. “In the past month alone, people have casted more than 38 million times from Chrome, watching and listening to more than 50 million hours of content.”
Now it’s even easier, as there’s no extension to know about and install. Some video players, like those in YouTube, display a Cast icon.
But you can cast any content, video or otherwise, right from Chrome too: Just select Menu and then Cast. The same pop-up menu will appear.
New to this update is the ability to cast content to a video call on Google Hangouts or the Cast for Education app. “Now you can share your presentation with your coworkers during a Hangout or to your peers in the classroom,” Google explains.
To get this integrated capability, just make sure that Chrome is updated to the latest version.