Google has today announced Chromecast Audio, which allows users to stream music via wi-fi to their existing speakers, muscling in on Sonos' territory with a device that is a fraction of the price of the electronics company's speakers.
The Chromecast Audio dongle plugs into any speaker carrying a 3.5mm input with its audio jack, allowing the user to stream music using apps such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora to the device, with the audio then playing through the speaker it's connected to. This essentially creates a new, inexpensive middle man in the world of audio streaming, with Sonos' speakers bundled with wi-fi functionality and therefore being sold at a premium, while Chromecast Audio retails for just $35 in the US, £30 in the UK and $49 in Australia.
With this new dongle, Google is allowing users to stream music using speakers they already own, thus bringing a much more affordable option into the market that will likely worry the likes of Sonos. Obviously the audio quality of the music you choose to stream using Chromecast Audio is entirely dependent upon your own speaker setup, but if you already own high-end speakers and are therefore unwilling to take the plunge with Sonos, but would still benefit from the addition of wi-fi functionality, Chromecast Audio is therefore the perfect tool for the job. Google has stated that while the dongle will eventually support multiroom playback, this feature will be introduced in an update later in the year. The audio quality that it supports has also yet to be announced, though Google have stated that it will optimize your music to sound crisp and clear regardless of your Internet speed.