Google Cast

In a direct, albeit slightly delayed, response to Apple's AirPlay technology, Google has launched an audio counterpart to its Chromecast technology.

Google Cast will power speaker integration that enables users to stream music from a select set of music services and apps -- including Deezer, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, Rhapsody and TuneIn -- to speakers using their computers or mobile devices (including iPhones and iPads). Notably absent from the list of initially supported services are Spotify and (not surprisingly) the Apple-run iTunes Radio and Beats.


Users with Chromecast, Google's $35 video streaming dongle, can "throw" (or "cast") any Google Cast-enabled music app to a Chromecast, which will then play via speakers connected to their television. For those without Chromecast, compatible Google Cast speakers are headed to retail this spring from Denon, LG and Sony, with other brands to follow. To choose a source for the music, users tap the Cast button contained in the compatible music app. "If I have my phone out and I'm playing Pandora, there'll be a button in the top right -- I tap it, and it asks me which device to send it to, or a separate speaker," a Google spokesperson explained.

Look for Google to grow its Cast system in the coming months, adding more TVs, gaming consoles, and set-top boxes.

Apple initially released AirPlay under the moniker AirTunes 10 years ago. Apple's technology uses a similar structure to stream music from the company's various devices to AirPlay-enabled speakers, including those from partners B&W, Denon, JBL, Philips and iHome.

In other first-day CES music news, iHeartRadio is headed to a living room near you via a new deal with TiVo. The integration of the digital radio service into TiVo set-top boxes means the potential for iHeart to score more users. Competitor Pandora launched on TiVo Premiere in 2010.