In the ever-changing world of high-tech gadgets and gizmos, a whole load of jargon is thrown our way that many of us don’t necessarily understand.

In our new regular series, What is…, we’ll tackle a tech term and explain what it means so you can understand it a bit more.

Have you heard of Google Chromecast? But you aren’t quite sure what it does? Here’s everything you need to know.

[Read more: What speakers work with Chromecast?]

What is Google Chromecast?

Google Chromecast is a small, £30 wireless receiver compatible with any HD TV. 

Chromecast lets you wirelessly stream or ‘cast’ content from your laptop, smartphone or tablet to any high definition TV.  You can cast video, music and even the content of your web browser to your TV.

The Chromecast dongle creates its own secure wi-fi hotspot. This means it works with any television - whether or not your TV is internet-enabled, as long as your TV has an HDMI port.

Google Chromecast colour options

How does it Chromecast work?

The Chromecast receiver fits into the HDMI port of a TV. It runs a scaled-down Chrome browser, which receives data and transmits it to the set.

When you want to cast something to your television – such as a YouTube video - make sure the phone, tablet or laptop you are using is connected to wi-fi, open the app (such as Netflix) tap the Cast icon on the device and watch as it casts.

While casting you can continue using your device to complete other tasks, such as search for video on YouTube or send an email.

With Chromecast you don’t need a separate remote - play, pause and even control the video volume using your device.

What is Google Chromecast Audio?

Chromecast Audio works in a similar way, although instead of streaming video, it streams audio. This makes it a cheap way to listen to music on your smartphone, tablet or laptop, using your existing speakers.

Google Chromecast Audio

Instead of plugging into am HDMI port, it plugs into a 3.5mm port. It comes with a 3.5mm stereo cable, but 3.5mm to RCA, optical cable for Chromecast Audio and RCA Cable for Chromecast Audio cables are available separately. 

It supports lossless high-resolution audio and if you own multiple Chromecast Audio dongles, you can create your own multi-room speaker system, controlled by a single device running the Google Cast app, which also lets you skip tracks and adjust the volume.

Are Chromecast and Chromecast Audio just available for Android devices?

Chromecast works with wi-fi-enabled tablets, smartphones and computers.

It’s compatible with Android 4.2 or higher and Apple iPads and iPhones running iOS 9.1 and higher.

The Google Cast app for Android and Apple helps you discover apps.

Windows 7 (and higher) and Mac OX X (Mac OS 10.9 and higher) users need to have the most up to date version of Chrome installed. Read full setup instructions.

Google Chromecast on phone

Does Chromecast work with apps?

Yes, but the apps need to be compatible. Unsurprisingly Google’s own apps, YouTube and Google Play Movies & TV, are all compatible.

There are dozens of third-party apps available including: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, BT Sport, Spotify, Ted and games such as Angry Birds Friends.

Check out the full selection of Chromecast apps.

How much does Chromecast cost?

Google updated the first-generation Chromecast in late 2015, with a new design that makes it easier to fit in TVs with crowded HDMI ports. It includes three antennas and support for dual-band wi-fi channels.

It costs £30 from Currys, John Lewis and Argos.

Chromecast Audio also costs £30 from Google and Currys.

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