First and foremost, let’s file this one firmly under speculation. Big-time speculation.
Gabriel published an article outlining a refreshed Gen-2 Chromecast that just passed through the FCC a few days ago and immediately upon that news coming across my screen, I had one thought: Project Yeti.
In that article, it is made quite clear that we are going to be seeing a refresh of the second gen Chromecast that will be adding Bluetooth to the existing Chromecast mix. Also of note, the current Chromecast Ultra already has this functionality, but it is not currently engaged. Existing second-gen Chromecasts have the hardware, but lack proper FCC clearance to use it for much more than setup functions. Could Google turn it on? Sure. Will they? No idea, but without the full spectrum of Bluetooth support being cleared for use by the FCC, I’m not sure how or if Google will bother with the older units. Time will tell.
What Is This For?
Regardless of which devices do or don’t get full Bluetooth support, Google needs a pretty significant reason to release a new run of basically the same hardware. Sure, they could just be adding the ability for you to send Bluetooth audio to your Chromecast, but that seems like a very small feature unworthy of a full-on hardware refresh.
As I said above, the second I saw this I couldn’t escape the feeling that Google might be moving forward with the secretive Project Yeti. I’m assuming many of you may have already forgotten about this quick blip on the radar back in February, but you can head here and read about it. As a quick primer, Yeti is a project that Google is reportedly working on to bring some sort of gaming solution to their portfolio. It was shown to be tested on a Chromecast, but there is also reference to full-fledged consoles.
The truth is, we simply don’t know what it is at this point. We do know that Google acquired Microsoft and Sony gaming vet Phil Harrison right around the same time the initial stories about Project Yeti began circulating. With one of the rumors pinning Project Yeti as a game streaming service, we became quite excited at the thought that Google could provide a very usable, very enjoyable game streaming service without the need for bulky, expensive gaming gear.
One of the big questions around this whole idea – if it does, in fact, utilize a Chromecast – was how gamers would be able to use a gamepad with a Chromecast. Without Bluetooth, there just wasn’t a clear way that this could happen, and that one point made the whole idea of a streaming game service via Chromecast seem unlikely. I still held out hope that it would be possible, but even I was pretty close to abandoning the whole idea.
But this news changes all that.
With a full Bluetooth stack, pairing up a couple controllers would be a piece of cake. Google could even drop an official controller that uses some BLE tech like the Daydream controller. That controller pairs with a single button and a Google-made controller could do the same. The bigger question is whether or not Google can really make streaming games feel native. I’ve used some of the other platforms and even written about them, but there is just enough lag to make it unplayable for action games like Fortnite.
If Google could pull this off, it would be huge. If Google is actually doing this, it could be huge. But, as I said above, this is purely conjecture and speculation. I have no inside info and Google could be doing something far less aggressive with this Bluetooth. I hope that isn’t the case. I really do, but I’m prepared to be amazed or totally underwhelmed with this official announcement, whenever it happens.
My fingers are crossed that we’ll see something at I/O about all this. We only have about a day to wait at this point! Stay tuned.