Things Apple TV could learn from Chromecast

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but my wife watches a lot of TV. She does not, however, particularly like watching “TV” on her computer or iPad etc. She wants to watch TV on a TV.

One day, she saw something about Chromecast and so she went online and bought one. Usually I research and buy the technology in our household, although in 1999 I was told in no uncertain terms that we needed a TiVo, even though we didn’t really know what it was yet (same thing applies to the first iPod).

Anyway, it came to pass that I walked into the room to watch a little TV, and lo and behold, my wife was watching something “off the Internet” right there on her TV. She set the whole thing up all by herself. Now, my wife is very bright and pretty technically savvy too, but she doesn’t live for playing with technology like many geeks do – she wants to use it. The means of setting up and configuring things may be the ends for geeks, but for my wife, the end is actually using the technology to serve her purposes. The setup is just a necessary evil. But she did unbox and set it up and she didn’t need my help. She had to show me how to use the Chromecast, literally. I knew roughly how it worked, but she walked me through details and I learned a few things about using it, in practice, along the way.

So what can Apple learn? Well, first, Apple already knows how to make the setup easy enough for non-geek mortals, but I have to say Chromecast surprised me in that regard. Compared to a lot of other Google side-projects like this, they seem to have done a much better job here to serve real people. So, on to the list…

It’s only $35

If there’s one thing you can say about Chromecast, it sure does hit a sweet spot in terms of price. For $35 it’s easy to make the decision to try it. For $35 it’s easier to accept flaws or accept a limited feature set.

It hits a feature sweet spot

Chromecast also is a really good 80/20 type solution. It doesn’t try to do too many things. It works with Netflix and Youtube, which covers a very large portion of online streaming video content. It does Google Play content too (whatever that is). No one cares. Some day it will work with more apps. It doesn’t matter. It does Netflix and Youtube – and for $35 that’s good enough.

Direct streaming, independent of the control device

The fact that the iPad apps are really just acting as remote controls for Chromecast and that Chromecast is going off and streaming the content itself is really cool. Airplay is a really awesome feature, when you need it, but for your basic Netflix watching, direct streaming is better. Apple TV obviously can directly stream too, but Chromecast does a better job integrating with the apps to kind of hide this feature and make it more streamlined than Apple TV does – and did I mention Chromecast only costs $35?

I was wrong

When I first saw Chromecast, I assumed it would be another geek-oriented Google thing that would have no mainstream appeal. I assumed it would be another Google TV: clunky, awkward, complicated, etc. I was wrong. Google clearly has learned some lessons about consumers and put that knowledge to effect in Chromecast.

Most importantly, my wife is happy and she tells me how much she loves her Chromecast almost every day.