With Google's Chromecast now on sale in Vodafone UK stores, we thought it was time for a chat about the future of streaming. Enter Vodafone's resident futurologist...
“Streaming at home is only becoming more accessible,” says Vodafone’s Patrick Harrison-Harvey. He’s the man who knows what’s coming next in the world of smartphones, because he’s already seen the phones we’ll be stocking in the months to come.
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Today we’ve been talking to him about Chromecast, the thumb-sized Google device that wirelessly connects your phone to your TV, letting you beam movies and music to the big screen. You can pick up a Chromecast in Vodafone stores now, but what does this kind of connectivity mean for our homes? And where is the technology headed? We asked Patrick to find out…
“Stick the Google Chromecast into the HDMI port in the back of your TV,” Patrick explains, “and then suddenly your media centre is in your hand. You can output video, music, photos and webpages from your phone to your TV. And when you do that, Chromecast isn’t relying on your phone’s screen, so it’s not burning out the power on your phone – your phone is just telling the Chromecast what to do, so your phone controls it but it doesn’t power it.
“That’s great because it means you can stream a movie from your phone, put it onto your TV, and know that when you’ve finished you’ll still have battery power.”
So how does Chromecast fit into the wider tech scene? When we’re streaming content from our phones to our TVs, what point are we heading towards?
“Effectively,” Patrick says, “our phones are becoming media centres. It’s all about how we can link our phones into our home setups in a simpler way. Previously there were all kinds of different solutions from different manufacturers, and you tended to have to go with one over the other; you’d have to have a Samsung phone and a Samsung TV, for example.
What Google has done is make all that really accessible – it’s so low priced that it’s a no-brainer. You could pay for an expensive Smart TV, but now you can make your TV smart for £30.
Smart phone, smart living room
With this power now in everyone’s hands, we’re keen to get Patrick’s view on the future of the connected living room. Are Smart TVs about to be killed off by the smartphone?
“For the Smart TV to hang around it’s got to evolve.”
“I have read that view,” he says, “and it’s interesting. I’ve got a Smart TV and there is a level of convenience in going into some On Demand apps because they’re just straight there.
“But most people have that same functionality running through a games console or similar device. So for the Smart TV to hang around it’s got to evolve.
“People generally don’t want a lot of clutter. If you think of all the things you’ve got in your living room at the minute, you’ve got a box here for this, and a box here for that – consoles, players, set top boxes and the like… If you could have one thing that does it all, then that’ll replace it all.”
Patrick believes that that ‘one thing’ could eventually be our smartphones. And if that happens, then the next box in your TV unit to disappear could be your games console…
Dawn of the smartphone games console?
“Gaming is the next one in terms of major changes,” he tells us. “Gaming will soon become more cloud based, where all the computing is being done elsewhere and is streamed to you. Sony is readying itself for cloud-based gaming, and if all the hard work is being done somewhere else, do you still need a Playstation?”
Patrick explains that, just like how you can stream Netflix movies from your phone to your TV via Chromecast, in the future we’ll be able to do the same with console quality computer games:
“The games could be streamed straight to your phone, then beamed from your phone to the TV through something like Chromecast, and played with Bluetooth games controllers.
“It’s currently in the interest of the big companies to keep the consoles relevant, but if they can take out the physical and distribution side, then the phone can really become that central hub in your living room. That’s going to be the next big thing.”
Keen to join the streaming revolution? You can pick up a Google Chromecast for just £25 if you’re a Red 4G customer in your local Vodafone store. If you’re a big TV and movie streaming fan, click here to find out how you can get Netflix membership included as part of our Red 4G plans.