The second-generation Chromecast is nearly three-years-old now, making it practically ancient in Google terms. And a new FCC (Federal Communications Commission) filing suggests that it may be getting its long-awaited replacement sooner rather than later.
The question is how do you improve on close-to-perfection? The Chromecast does what it sets out to do brilliantly, and there’s already a largely superfluous 4K Chromecast Ultra available for cinephiles whose TVs lack app support. So what could third-generation Chromecast possibly offer to tempt people into upgrading?
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A couple of clues to that seem to be hidden in the listing. Firstly, one line reads: “This device has been changed to include a 0.5 mm trim on the 5GHz PCB antenna trace that increases the 5GHz maximum antenna gain from 2.1 dBi to 4 dBi.”
In short, that means better Wi-Fi performance. How much better is tough to guess based on those words, but Android Police estimates this may represent a “55% increase in maximum possible gain when using 5GHz WiFi”. Not too shabby.
Perhaps more importantly though, the listing mentions Bluetooth certification. Now technically, the current Chromecast has a Bluetooth chip, but it’s only used for the initial setup procedure. This theoretically could just be the same deal again, but it seems unlikely as an earlier FCC listing from Google emphasised more functionality.
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So what sort of thing could that be? Well, the most obvious answer would be the connection of extra peripherals like mice and keyboards for easier navigation of content. Getting a bit more speculative, this could extend to gamepads to encourage the expansion of the Chromecast’s limited selection of games. It could even allow for the playing of music stored on your phone, potentially.
It’s likely we’ll know what’s coming soon. Google has an awful lot up its sleeve, with the Google Pixel 3, a Google Pixel watch and a Google Pixelbook 2 believed to be on the way. A new, improved Chromecast could be the icing on a very generously filled cake when Google finally decides to show its hand with an official event.
Does the Chromecast need improvements? Let us know what you think on Twitter @TrustedReviews.