The Chromecast hasn’t changed at all since the 6 years it’s been available for consumers. It isn’t important to Google.
It’s been six years since the release of the Chromecast, and it hasn’t evolved.
I have been a Chromecast fan since 2013 when the device was first released. The device let me instantly send anything from my phone or browser to my TV where I could watch videos on the bigger screen. While the Chromecast is great for sending things to your TV and with Google Assistant great for asking things to be played from YouTube and Netflix, the device hasn’t aged well next to its competitors and even first-party products from Google. The Chromecast hasn’t changed at all since the six years it’s been available. Google has released 3 generations of the device, but the only thing that has changed is the design and a slightly faster device with each generation.
Where Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku have evolved over the years, getting UI updates, much-needed hardware updates and proper app support, Chromecast hasn’t. I can run Android apps on a Fire TV which uses Amazon’s take on Android, but can’t run Android apps on my Chromecast. You might say, “Why don’t you get an Android TV if you want to run Android apps?” which is a valid question. Android TV and Chromecast are both casting enabled, the only difference being Android TV runs a special version of Android. Instead of using a Custom OS for Chromecast, Google should just replace it with Android TV OS. Having Two OS’s for TVs is confusing for consumers. Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV all run one OS. This allows for a better consumer experience by removing options. No matter which version of a device you buy, 4K or standard, you’ll get the same experience across these devices.
So, why should I purchase a Fire TV over a Chromecast?
Reason #1: Integration
Great question. You probably bought a streaming stick to watch Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc on your big screen. Google and Google Assistant at the time this article was written, only hook up to YouTube and Netflix. You can’t tell Google to play something from Prime or Hulu. Hell, Siri on Apple TV is even able to play Content from Hulu and Prime Video. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my Google Assistant to play content from Hulu only to remember that Google hasn’t partnered with Hulu to enable this. However, using Alexa on the Fire TV Remote, Apple Watch or Echo devices, I can play content from Hulu, Netflix, Prime, Crackle, Pluto, etc all to my TV, hands-free. My Smart Cameras can even be streamed to my TV so I can check what’s happening outside. I can also control my devices from the Alexa Remote.
Reason #2: The Voice Remote
Like Apple, Roku and Amazon know, using your phone as your only source to control your streaming device can be very weird. Including a Remote with the device makes the technology more accessible to people. Using a screen to control another screen feels awkward. Google may have wanted us to forget the remote, but Apple, Amazon, and Roku all have something to say:
The Remote isn’t going anywhere.
With the Fire TV, the Remote can be used to Type, Search, Play Content, Select Content and use as a cursor for web pages. It also allows for more dynamic controls with the buttons available. For instance, if I need to rewind, fast forward or mute the TV, I don’t need to unlock my phone, hunt down the app I am using to stream content from and then control the device; I can just pick up my remote and press a button, and it works in any app, universally.
Reason #3: Alexa
Fire TV uses Alexa, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s an Amazon product. Alexa isn’t just able to talk to your entertainment services, she’s able to talk to skills. I can ask her to read my calendar, send emails, show me my Amazon deliveries and a vast amount of other skills. There are, according to Amazon, more than 30,000 skills available for Alexa, most of which, you can use from your TV. With Google Assistant, you are locked to what Google has in its Audio and Video settings.
Reason #4: It runs Android and Apps
Fire TV runs Fire OS which is Amazon’s take on Android. Fire OS has fewer restrictions than Android on Android TV devices, which is kind of ironic. You can sideload apps on Fire TV (which you can also do on Android TV, However, it doesn’t add a launcher icon as it does with Fire TV) to enable functions such as blocking ads (for privacy reasons), installing VPNs, and even just running Android apps in general (though I wouldn’t recommend as some apps are made strictly for smaller devices).
Reason #5: OS and Apps Updated Regularly
With an Android TV, You are almost never going to receive an app update, especially if you bought a non-brand name. This became a problem back in the day of early Android TV’s where your TV was shipped and sold with the OS it came with and never got an update, similar to the story with Android tablets. Buying a streaming device ensures you’ll get updates. Chromecast’s also update, but don’t run Android like Fire TV which means you can’t change the settings of apps you use (like if you wanted to change the streaming quality of apps, when a major app releases an update, you’ll receive the update very soon whereas, on Chromecast, you’ll need to wait for the devs to update the Chromecast UI of apps.
An example of this is YouTube on Chromecast. On Chromecast, YouTube has had the same “ambient” screen since around 2015 and shows ads for other YouTube services such as YouTube gaming and YouTube Music which could be used to show you a few videos you might like based on your watch history, but I digress.
Conclusion: When it comes to Entertainment, Home Control, and Skills, Fire TV is a better investment.
With the vast library of video services Fire TV supports, it’s much better than the Chromecast. The amount of video services it supports is almost endless compared to the Chromecast which officially (at the time this article was written) only supports 6 subscription services.
(This article wasn’t sponsored. I don’t do endorsements for companies that ask for them. I want to share my honest opinions and not fake content.)