The second-generation Chromecast is nearly three-years-old now, making it practically ancient in Google terms. However, it appears to be in line for a refresh this month.
A Redditor claims to have managed to purchase a third-generation Chromecast from Best Buy in the US. Along with the caption “I think I bought the 3rd gen Chromecast too early”, GroveStreetHomie has posted a picture of the alleged 2018 Chromecast lying alongside the second-gen model.
Related: Chromecast deals
So 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 a third-generation Chromecast possibly offer to tempt people into upgrading?
Well, it appears that Google has tweaked Chromecast’s design, ditching the glossy body and Chrome logo of old for a new matte look and the same ‘G’ logo you can find on Google’s Pixel line of phones. It hasn’t gone through huge changes though − after all, it’s still a disc-shaped dongle.
“Upon setting up at home and comparing it to my 2nd gen Chromecast, it seems a little thicker,” wrote GroveStreetHomie, who added that he hasn’t been able to use it because the Google Home app need to be updated with an as-yet-unreleased update. It is, however, scheduled to go on sale on October 9 − the same day as Google’s Pixel launch event.
“Still micro-USB (sad right). They did remove the magnetic HDMI connector on the tip and base of the Chromecast which is a bummer,” GroveStreetHomie added.
Another Redditor, called BigGigabit, has said their local Best Buy has also jumped the gun, and has posted a series of pictures of an identical-looking device. These images also all-but-confirm that the new Chromecast will cost the same amount as the second-gen Chromecast − $35. In the UK, the second-gen Chromecast costs £30, so that’s what we’re expecting the new model to cost too.
They also show that the new Chromecast won’t support 4K. It will likely top out at 1080p instead.
In August, a new FCC (Federal Communications Commission) filing was spotted, potentially hinting at more upcoming changes. 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.
Related: Best streaming sites
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 extremely soon. Google has an awful lot up its sleeve, with the Google Pixel 3, a Google Pixelbook 2 and much more believed to be on the way. A new and improved Chromecast could be the icing on a very generously filled cake when Google finally decides to show its hand at its October 9 event.
Does the Chromecast need improvements? Let us know what you think on Twitter @TrustedReviews.