The nifty little Chromecast streaming media dongle is being updated with some helpful little extras. Most notably, you'll be able to enable an option to allow nearby entertainment junkies to cast to the device even if they aren't on the same Wi-Fi network as the Chromecast itself--a handy addition for visiting friends. Chromecast is also gaining the ability to mirror Android devices on your TV, as well as a "Backdrop" feature that lets you customize the imagery shown during downtime. Read all about the changes here.
The Chrome OS operating system is also receiving some fresh new features, thanks to deeper integration with Android. Like Android L devices, Chromebook users will soon be able to bypass passwords by using a Bluetooth-enabled Android phone for automatic authentication--merely opening the lid will log you in to both the operating system and your Google account. While paired, notifications for incoming calls and texts will appear on your Chromebook, along with low-power warnings for your phone. Google's also working to allow top Android apps to work on Chromebooks, complete with hardware-level access.
Underneath it all
Don't let all the fancy announcements and hardware talk fool you: Google I/O is a primarily a show for developers, and Google revealed some intriguing under-the-hood announcements sure to make devs just as happy as end users.
The Play Games service underpinning Google's gaming endeavors is giving players richer profiles and cloud-based "bookmarks," which save your in-game progress alongside a screenshot--though it's not clear how it differs from the cloud saves already available to players (and underused by developers). Developers will also be able to create daily Quests, complete with potential in-game rewards.
Shifting gears, health is the buzzword of the day, and Google's jumping on the bandwagon while playing to the potential strengths of Android Wear devices with the launch of Google Fit, a new platform designed to allow your disparate fitness apps and devices play nice together. Essentially, Google Fit lets fitness gear and software share data with each other, and Google's already signed up a small army of partners for the platform--which you can read all about here.
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