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The original Chromecast hits end of life after a decade of service

The original Chromecast.

The original Chromecast.


Rest now, little Chromecast. Google has announced the decade-old Chromecast 1 is finally hitting end of life. A message on Google’s Chromecast firmware support page (first spotted by 9to5Google) announced the wind-down of support, saying, “Support for Chromecast (1st gen) has ended, which means these devices no longer receive software or security updates, and Google does not provide technical support for them. Users may notice a degradation in performance.” The first-gen Chromecast launched in 2013 for $35.

The original Chromecast was wildly successful and sold 10 million units in 2014 alone. For years, the device was mentioned in Google earnings calls as the highlight of the company’s hardware efforts, and it was essentially the company’s first successful piece of hardware. The Chromecast made it easy to beam Internet videos to your TV at a time when that was otherwise pretty complicated.

Google does not really make “Chromecasts” anymore—or at least it doesn’t make products that use the original Chromecast technology stack. The original 2013 Chromecast, 2015’s second-generation version, 2016’s Chromecast Ultra, and 2018’s third-gen versions are all dead-simple streaming sticks. They run the Cast OS, which is an ultra-lightweight OS cobbled together from bits of Chrome OS and Android. They have no default interface, they can’t run apps, and they have no control mechanism of their own. Old-school Chromecasts exist solely as media receivers for the cast button in various apps like YouTube. You press the cast button in an app, pick a TV, and the screen turns on and starts playing media. That’s it.

In 2020, Google released the “Chromecast with Google TV,” a product that keeps the Chromecast brand alive but pivots away from the idea of a simple streaming stick. The new “Chromecasts” can still be media receivers, but they are dramatically more complicated Android TV boxes now. They run a full Android operating system, have their own interface, and come with a physical remote control for navigating the UI. You can log in to the stick, fire up the Play Store, and download updates and install apps. New Chromecasts are just set-top boxes in the form factor of a dongle.

Chromecast’s pivot to Android TV means there are no current products that use the Cast OS. In fact, Google has worked to expunge the misfit OS from all of Google, with the other Cast OS product, the Google Nest Hub, switching to Fuchsia. The only work on the OS nowadays will be supporting the obsolete Chromecasts, with the newest being the 5-year-old Chromecast third generation. There’s no word on how much time the other Cast OS sticks have left.

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