Google Chromecast hits Europe

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iol scitech march 20 Chromecast AP The new Google Chromecast device.

Paris - Gone are the days of squinting at your smartphone as you try to make out what is happening in your favourite film.

On Wednesday, eight months after the American release, Google launched its latest innovation - Chromecast - in Europe and Canada, a small device the size of a finger which allows you to transfer online video content from a mobile device onto an HD television.

According to the Internet giant, the device has done well in the US, with “millions” sold to date, although it has not revealed a precise figure.

Wednesday saw the device released in ten European countries - Germany, Denmark, France, Spain, Finland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain - as well as in Canada. Google is also now opening up the platform to developers, with 3 000 already signed up to create content.

The Chromecast device plugs into a television through an HDMI port, then communicates with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop over the wifi network.

Click the small icon, and you can send videos from your mobile device to your television, or use your smartphone as a remote control.

The device means consumers will be able to watch everything from cat videos on YouTube to feature films on Netflix. Content will also vary by country. In the UK, viewers can use the device to watch programmes from the BBC, in France, they can use it for FranceTV Pluzz and SFR TV.

While there have been other devices to connect televisions to mobile devices before, such as Apple's Air Play, Google is betting that the simplicity of its device, its size, and price - it sells for 35 euros (about R500) will win over the market.

It is also proud of the way Chromecast allows users to “multitask” - it is possible to send mails and use other applications while watching television.

“Chromecast is the easiest way to bring your favourite online movies, shows, music and more to the TV screen,” said Mario Queiroz, director of product management at Google. “It should be easy for people to watch the content they want wherever they are.”

According to rumours, online shopping giant Amazon will also release its own television-smartphone interface next month.

Pascal Lechevallier, the founder of What's Hot, a consultancy which specialises in new media, said the device was a great way for multi-channel networks on YouTube to be watched on the home's main television.

“History is changing, and the video offering online is going to become even larger,” he predicted, stressing the importance, in time, for Google to capitalise on video ads as they are screened on television. - Sapa-AFP

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