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3 Nifty Upgrades Coming to Google's $35 Chromecast Stick

By William Peacock, Esq. on June 27, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Last year, when Google released its Chromecast stick, we were beyond excited: a $35 stick that had so much untapped potential. At launch, it was a glorified Netflix and YouTube streamer, but offered little else, other than a few intriguing beta features, but the promise was there.

A year later? Google just announced a few significant upgrades at Google I/O, plus third-party apps have proliferated to the point where it's not just a video-streaming toy (though it is really good at that). Let's take a look at the upcoming features:

Connect to Chromecast Without Wi-Fi

This is a pretty handy addition. Currently, to connect to your Chromecast, you have to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

Now? If you want to, for example, cast something from your phone, without logging in to the Wi-Fi network (say, at a friend's office), you can still connect to the Chromecast -- the device will emit a supersonic noise through your television speakers that nearby devices can detect, or it will display a code on the screen for you to punch in manually, reports The Verge.

It's a neat feature, but honestly, most of the time, both you and your device are going to be on the same Wi-Fi network, at home or at the office.

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Mirror Your Android Screen

Now this is handy. Before, you could demo things by casting a tab from Google Chrome. Performance was laggy, but passable.

According to Android Central, with this addition, you can cast your Android phone or tablet's entire screen (supported devices only, for now), which is perfect for presentations, demoing a new website or application to your coworkers, or simply handling a presentation wirelessly, without a laptop, and without having to try to get a PowerPoint file to open in Chrome.

Change Background Images

When Chromecast is idle, it displays a series of pretty stock images. (Oh lookie, the Bay Bridge! Yay!) With the next update, you can change the backdrop images to a Google+ photo album (or, coming soon: support for third-party photo services), reports SlashGear.

So, if you want to wow visitors to your office, perhaps you set up an album of profiles of your firm's staff members, significant case victories, and whatever else will draw their eye, and set that as a backdrop. Whenever the Chromecast isn't being used, you'll have a nice, bright slideshow playing at all times.

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