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Google Cast for Audio announced – gunning for Sonos?

Google is expanding casting beyond Chromecast to audio devices

Google has had huge success with its Chromecast device, allowing people to ‘cast’ video content from one device to another – most commonly from an Android smartphone to a Chromecast attached to your TV. Now Google is expanding the technology, with a range of dedicated audio devices that are based around the same technology – Google Cast for Audio.

The devices are essentially standalone audio networked speakers (or soundbars), with Wi-Fi connections that make them closer cousins to AirPlay or Sonos multi-room devices than simple Bluetooth speakers. LG, Sony and Denon are already signed up to make them. Google’s casting tech doesn’t actually stream the audio from the controlling device to the speaker (or TV), instead it merely tells the speaker what to play, and it then takes over and streams it from the internet.

The advantages of casting are numerous. For starters having multiple such devices connected to the same Wi-FI network will create a synchronised multi-room system. Having a party? Then Cast for Audio will be able to receive music requests from anyone in your home, letting everyone queue up their favourite tracks. And you can still cast from video sources such as YouTube, when all you really want is the audio.

However, Google may well be living in the future a little here. It’s all well and good for those who stream all their music online from supported services – a list that currently lacks market-leader Spotify. Even putting that aside, most of still having large libraries of MP3s as well and want to be able to stream those too. We’d be amazed if the devices didn’t also provide Bluetooth support so that you can listen to your locally stored music too.

Google Cast for Audio works with all the same devices and apps as Chromecast. You’ll be able to cast from any device where you see the little cast icon. That includes iPads and iPhones, Android devices, and of course anything running the Chrome browser. The current list of audio apps is very US-centric, but UK apps such as iPlayer that already support Google Cast will work, so you’ll be able to cast radio shows to the speaker.

Google looks to be very keen on its casting technology and Google Cast for Audio makes a lot of sense in order for it to get more content to more devices. With the right hardware and the right app support it could easily become ubiquitous.

And it’s not just audio getting a push today either, earlie we also saw announced the first projector with built-in Chromecast capabilities from Acer, you can read more about the Acer H7550ST now.