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Google unveils Chromecast for $35, a rival to Apple TV

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Google on Wednesday announced Chromecast, a jump-drive-sized gadget that lets users watch content from their smartphones, tablets or laptops on their TV.

Users will be able to plug the Chromecast into their TV using an HDMI input. To make it work, they'll also have to connect to their home WiFi network.

Once the device is set up, users can control their TV and the content they watch by simply using their smartphone or tablet like a TV remote.

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The device works, for example, by finding a YouTube video on a smartphone and tapping on a new "Cast" icon to tell the device to send the video to the TV through Chromecast.

But while Chromecast talks to smartphones and tablets to figure out what content to play, the content itself is being pulled from the cloud. That means users can keep using their smartphone for other tasks while playing video on Chromecast.

The new Chromecast device works similarly to the Apple TV's AirPlay feature, which lets users control the content they watch using their iPhone, iPad or other Apple devices.

However, unlike AirPlay and Apple TV, Google said Chromecast will work with many types of mobile devices, not just their own. Google said Chromecast will work with both Android and Apple iOS devices. 

Google said Chromecast will work with Google Play movies and TV shows, YouTube and Netflix. The device will also work with music apps, such as Google Music and Pandora. Other developers will also be able to make their apps work with Chromecast, Google said.

Using the Chrome browser, users will also be able to project whatever website they are seeing on their laptop to their Chromecast device and TV.

Chromecast will be available for $35 starting Wednesday from Amazon, Google Play and Best Buy. Best Buy will also carry the device in stores later this month. 

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