After revolutionizing the way we stream content, the original Chromecast has finally reached the end of its life cycle. Google announced the discontinuation of support for the first-generation Chromecast, marking the end of an era for this groundbreaking device. The news, first spotted by 9to5Google, was shared on Google’s Chromecast firmware support page, stating that the first-gen Chromecast will no longer receive software or security updates. Additionally, Google will no longer provide technical support for these devices, and users may experience a decline in performance.
When the first-generation Chromecast was introduced in 2013 at an affordable price of $35, it quickly became a game-changer in the world of streaming. In 2014 alone, an astounding 10 million units were sold, solidifying its position as a flagship product in Google’s hardware lineup. During earnings calls, Google often touted the Chromecast as a standout success, making it a pivotal moment for the company’s foray into consumer hardware. At a time when streaming content to a TV was a cumbersome task, the Chromecast simplified the process, allowing users to effortlessly beam Internet videos to their screens.
However, Google has since moved away from the original Chromecast technology stack. While subsequent iterations of the Chromecast, such as the second-generation version in 2015, the Chromecast Ultra in 2016, and the third-generation models in 2018, retained the familiar streaming stick form factor, they now run on the Cast OS. This ultra-lightweight operating system combines elements of Chrome OS and Android, offering a streamlined user experience. These devices function solely as media receivers, triggered by the cast button in various applications like YouTube. Once the cast button is pressed and a TV is selected, the Chromecast activates, displaying and playing the chosen media. Simple, straightforward, and effective.
In 2020, Google introduced the “Chromecast with Google TV,” a product that keeps the Chromecast brand alive but diverges from the concept of a basic streaming stick. While still capable of serving as a media receiver, the new Chromecasts have transformed into more sophisticated Android TV boxes. They now operate on a full-fledged Android operating system, boasting their own intuitive interface and even featuring a physical remote control for seamless navigation. Users can log in to the device, access the Play Store, download updates, and install apps, transforming these “Chromecasts” into comprehensive set-top boxes disguised as dongles.
With the shift towards Android TV, there are currently no products on the market that utilize the Cast OS. In fact, Google has been actively phasing out the Cast OS from its entire ecosystem. Even the Google Nest Hub, another device running on the Cast OS, has transitioned to the upcoming Fuchsia operating system. As a result, support for the obsolete Chromecasts becomes the primary focus of the Cast OS team. While the Chromecast third-generation, released five years ago, still receives support, the fate of other Cast OS sticks remains uncertain, with no official announcement regarding their longevity.
As we say goodbye to the original Chromecast, we reflect on its immense impact on the world of streaming and entertainment. This unassuming device played a vital role in democratizing access to online content, paving the way for future innovations in the field. While the first-generation Chromecast may no longer be receiving support, its legacy lives on through the newer Chromecast iterations and the ever-evolving technology landscape.