The Chromecast is beloved (by some) for its utter simplicity. You just use your phone, and nothing else, to cast programming to your TV. That being said, it appears I'm not the only outlier who's wanted Google to offer a different kind of way to use the Chromecast.
This news comes to us from 9to5Google, which reports that a new Chromecast Ultra that uses both Android TV and a remote is in the works at Google. It's codenamed Sabrina, and thankfully it would still retain much of what we love about the Chromecast Ultra: its 4K HDR content and 'casting via Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity.
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I'm largely in favor of these changes, because I am always trying to keep my phone far from me while I'm streaming so I can focus on what I'm watching and stay out of Twitter and other apps. While the device will keep its Casting functionality, I've always wanted the Chromecast to be more of a standalone device. This version would allow for just that, letting you open apps in Android TV, rather than always needing your laptop or phone.
And while it would retain the Chromecast Ultra's dangling dot-shaped dongle design (down to the soft finish and G logo), this new model would include an external remote. The report cites "a reliable source familiar with the company's plans" and claims this "external remote will control the device, and resembles a cross between the Daydream View remote and an Apple TV remote."
Not only does the remote pack the Google Assistant button and a microphone to hear your commands, it would be programmable to TVs, likely for performing commands for adjusting volume other options.
Why is Google adjusting the Chromecast family? This new device is meant to give Android TV a more mainstream consumer-focused streaming device for the living room, as the gamer-focused Nvidia Shield TV is a bit specialized.
This Android TV Chromecast Ultra may have been planned for a reveal at Google I/O 2020, but that event was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. It's possible we still may see a reveal during I/O's May 2020 timeframe, should Google choose to have a livestream-only showcase.