In brief: Google's popular lineup of Chromecast streaming devices hasn't seen a refresh since the 3rd-gen model launched in 2018. Now, it seems a successor is on the horizon, which instead of being a simple streaming dongle, will run Android TV and come with its own remote to compete with the likes of Apple TV, Roku and Amazon's Fire TV.
The Chromecast has arguably been Google's most successful hardware to date, bringing the joy and convenience of streaming to TVs from browsers/phones at an affordable price point. The streaming dongle slowly gained more capabilities like 4K and HDR support with the 2016 Chromecast Ultra, but these features were absent on the later 3rd-gen model in a bid to keep prices down.
Rumors around a new model codenamed 'Sabrina' began surfacing earlier this year, and Google's recent FCC filings suggest that an Android TV dongle could launch alongside the Pixel 5 at the company's annual hardware event in October.
9to5Google reports of two new Google devices with model numbers GZRNL and G9N9N in FCC's listing. The former is described as an "Interactive Media Streaming Device" that supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while the latter is simply listed as a "Wireless Device" that will have the FCC label "under the power cover," suggesting that it could be a remote control for navigating Android TV's UI.
In addition to 4K 60fps and HDR support, Google's Android TV dongle is expected to feature a low-latency gaming mode for Stadia that will automatically toggle a TV's built-in gaming mode to disable post-processing and reduce lag while streaming games. The dongle is said to have twice the RAM of the Chromecast Ultra at 2GB, which, alongside its more powerful internals and the new dedicated remote control, would likely make it a more expensive option to Google's current offerings.
To make it stand out from other streaming media players, the company could also offer free Stadia Pro subscriptions as it did for existing Chromecast owners a few months ago. We'll find out more when Google is expected to announce the device officially at its annual fall hardware event.