Google isn’t particularly known for its clear branding. This is certainly the case when it comes to Chromecast, Google Cast, and Android TV. These platforms have some overlapping features, but they’re also quite different. Let’s take a look at all of them, so you can figure out which one is right for you.
What Is Chromecast?
Chromecast is Google’s branding for its line of streaming media dongles. These devices are small, affordable, and don’t require a physical remote for operation. They connect to TVs via HDMI and act as receivers when you cast content from other devices.
The latter is what really makes a Chromecast a Chromecast. When you plug a Chromecast dongle into your television, there’s no “home screen” or any sort of traditional interface. It’s a blank canvas waiting to receive content.
The remote for a Chromecast is your iPhone or Android device, tablet, or a computer with the Chrome browser. Any time you see the Chromecast icon (shown below) in an app or on a website, just tap it. Select the device you want to cast to, and your content will appear.
You can cast videos, slideshows, music, or even mirror a screen. Casting is enabled by a protocol called Google Cast. Not only can Google Cast send streaming video to a Chromecast dongle connected to a TV, but this is also what sends music to a Google Nest speaker.
Google Cast is where things get a little complicated. This merely refers to the protocol (devices with the feature will say “Chromecast built-in”). Google Cast doesn’t matter for Chromecast devices, but it does come into play for an Android TV.
The important thing to remember is a Chromecast is a small device that acts solely as a receiver for content from phones, tablets, and browsers.
What About Chromecast with Google TV?
The Chromecast with Google TV is like any other Android TV device. It may seem confusing with the “Chromecast” branding in the name, but you’ll recall that Android TV devices have all the functionality of Chromecast devices. Google is simply trying to market it as a Chromecast with extra functionality.
The thing to know is Android TV will eventually be rebranded as “Google TV.” The interface you see on the Chromecast with Google TV will slowly make its way to other Android TV devices. In the future, there will only be Chromecast and Google TV, no Android TV.