Google’s dead-simple Chromecast streaming media player can make an ordinary television smart. But when Google brought out this clever $35 fob in July, the device supported only four apps: Netflix and Google’s own YouTube, Google Play Movies and Google Play Music properties. That’s left the first people who snapped up the tiny devices waiting for fresh content.
The wait is over, at least for one major streaming service. On Wednesday, Google adds support for Hulu Plus, the first new Chromecast partner since launch. Hulu Plus surely won’t be the only partner added, though the timing on when others will come aboard remains fuzzy.
Pandora, for example, was expected to be a member of the Chromecast cast as far back as the product launch, but there’s still no firm date. HBO Go has also been rumored, but so far it’s HBO no go.
“We’re working with a lot of content partners,” says Mario Queiroz, Google’s vice president of product management for TV products.
A quick refresher on how Chromecast works: You plug the gizmo into the HDMI port on the back of an HDTV — Google says there are more than 600 million TVs around the world with the port — and connect to Wi-Fi. From there you can wirelessly stream or “cast” video and audio to the TV from supported apps on an Android tablet or smartphone or from an iPhone or iPad.
You can also use the Chrome Web browser on your Windows PC or Mac, or the browser baked into Google’s own pricey Chromebook Pixel laptop, to “tab cast” onto the TV the Web page you’re looking at on your computer, a feature still in a beta-testing phase.
Viewers who want to cast Hulu Plus must download the latest Android or iOS app for the service. At first Android tablets and smartphones will work, as will Apple’s iPad. But Hulu Plus support for the iPhone will have to wait a little bit longer.
Folks also must subscribe to Hulu Plus ($7.99 a month), since the free Hulu service is not part of the deal.
Hulu expects to gain subscribers through Chromecast because of how inexpensive Google’s device is, says Lonn Lee, Hulu’s vice president of product. “We know it’s going to be something impactful,” he says.
Hulu is already available on more than 390 million connected TVs, smartphones, game consoles and set-top boxes.
The Chromecast solution on Hulu Plus features a custom remote control that has all the basic functionality of play/pause, along with the 10-second rewind of the Hulu video player. Viewers can also enable captions or go straight to a favorite TV moment, such as Mindy’s proposal on The Mindy Project, the company says.
Google’s Queiroz says he isn’t phased by the competition from Roku, Apple TV and others.
“We see a really big market. Yes, there is competition, but it’s a young market … and I think competition makes everybody’s products better and gives consumers choices.”
Courtesy of USA Today