In typical Google fashion, the company has pushed a new device through FCC certification just days prior to an annual event. Google I/O kicks off Tuesday morning and with the launch of the #madebygoogle brand, the generally software-centric conference has featured more and more hardware over the last couple of years.
The latest device from Google isn’t a new Pixelbook or the rumored smart display we’ve heard whispers about but a minor refresh of one of Alphabet’s best selling products of all time.
The second generation Chromecast has received a small upgrade that will bring Bluetooth capabilities to the tiny streaming dongle.
According to 9to5Google’s Abner Li, a new FCC filing from May 3rd denotes a new Chromecast device with the same hardware as the current 2nd gen model but the update will enable the BT on the chipset to support Bluetooth radios.
To clarify, the Chromecast already uses Bluetooth during the setup process. You’re probably familiar with the feature if you’ve ever used your phone to set one up but that is actually BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy. This is the same tech that enables devices like Bluetooth beacons used by close-proximity advertisers to send your phone notifications in order to grab your attention while walking around the mall.
There are other applications for BLE and while similar to traditional Bluetooth, it’s not the same tech you use to pair a device for streaming, for example. This update will bring that functionality to the Chromecast Gen 2 and I would squander a guess that we’ll hear more about it at Google I/O this week.
For those of you with the current Chromecast 2, I’m sorry to say you won’t be receiving an update to activate Bluetooth. (at least not for now) In the attestation letter to the FCC, a reader spotted the following:
A software change is being implemented to enable legacy Bluetooth operations. Because this new mode requires a new equipment code (DSS) not covered by the original certification for FCC ID A4RNC2-6A5, the new version of device requires a new FCC ID. For clarity, devices bearing FCC ID A4RNC2-6A5 will not receive the software update to enable legacy Bluetooth operations.
9to5Google commenter, Andy
All that is fine and well but my thoughts immediately went to the Chromecast Ultra. If the 2nd gen dongle was getting an update, why not the 4K streamer? So, as I do, I started to poke around. The Chromecast Ultra has BLE just like it’s little brother but as clearly seen in this Google Product forum post, it does not support BT pairing.
I was bouncing my thoughts off of Robby and he pointed out that it would have to pass through the FCC at some point if Bluetooth were to be enabled. So, off to the FCC, I went. Here’s what I found.
Sure enough, the Chromecast Ultra already has FCC clearance to support BT radios. My guess is that Google has withheld the update to enable Bluetooth until such time they are ready to reveal its ability and purpose which could be very, very soon.
Stay tuned this week as we bring you up-to-the-minute coverage of Google I/O. I suspect there will be a lot to talk about.