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“Everyone loves their phones, tablets, and laptops,” said Google. “Unlike other solutions, we will not force you to have the same operating system on all your devices.”

Google is throwing a punch at Apple with their new Google Chromecast, a tiny $35 dongle that lets anyone stream videos from any phone or tablet to their TV by way of Google’s Chrome web browser. The dongle connects via HDMI, enabling any TV to turn into a Smart TV without the need for new user interfaces.

Although Chromecast doesn’t allow device mirroring like Apple’s AirPlay, it does turn your phone or tablet into a remote control––allowing you to control playback on the TV without interruption if you want to view and queue other videos or access other apps.

Another Chromecast feature that mimics Apple’s AirPlay is the ability to stream Chrome web browser tabs to the TV. It supports HTML5 and Flash, but Silverlight and Quicktime support isn’t available (at least not yet). And much to the surprise of many, only Google’s higher-end Pixel is supported from the Chromebook line.

Chromecast is still a baby compared to Apple’s AirPlay. For now it only offers Netflix and YouTube support, versus Apple’s laundry list of apps that also include Hulu Plus, HBOGo, Pandora and Spotify, among others. If you’re a bit of an music fanatic and want a kink-free way of wirelessly connecting your devices to a speaker, Apple is still the way to go because of all the AirPlay-compatible speakers on the market. But if you want to be able to use any device to stream general Internet content, then Chromecast might be for you.

While some might consider this another half-hearted attempt to compete with Apple TV, what Chromecast offers is an overly simplified way to stream content to a TV, without having to worry about OS compatibility.

You can find out more about Chromecast, and where to get it in your area here.

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