Update: Chromecast is now iOS compatible, and we've updated our review with impressions using the iPhone app.
Good things come in small packages, or at least that's the hope Google has for Chromecast. This inexpensive media streaming adapter turns any television into a content-filled destination, making it a seed that could grow into the company's answer to Apple TV, the Roku and other rival streaming devices.
But it's an answer that's very much a work in progress.
That's because while the Android inventor has released its streaming adapter at an attractive price of $35 (£23, about AU$39), the number of apps it supports is limited. In fact, as of this Chromecast review, five of the six compatible apps are owned by Google itself.
So far, Chromecast supports YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies & TV, the Chrome browser mirroring extension via computers, and the lone third-party application, Netflix.
Media companies have promised that more apps are on the way. Pandora, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go are all expected to be next in line. This needs to happen sooner rather than later considering the tremendous interest that U.S. consumers have shown Google's sold out streaming stick in its first days of availability.
But as it stands, Chromecast is Google's third attempt to take over living room televisions and it suffers from a lot of the same problems of its predecessors. Previously, the company launched the odd-shaped Nexus Q, which also faced an uphill battle for app support.
Google TV has had its own share of streaming problems. There are more apps for the Android 3.0 Honeycomb-based platform, but the hardware has always been more expensive, requiring a "buddy box" or a whole new television to take advantage of the apps.
Chromecast certainly fixes the out-of-reach hardware issue by selling for a rock-bottom price, and it's a million times easier to implement. If you can plug an HDMI cable into a television, you can use Chromecast. That's all it takes.
The good news for Google and everyone who buys into Chromecast right now is that while it still lacks a plethora of apps, it's the same exact problem that Apple TV and similarly-styled streaming boxes have faced for years. Content providers have been slow to get on board. In a few months time, Chromecast's lineup of apps is likely to be no better and no worse than its rivals.
For this reason, Chromecast could end up being an experiment by Google, which is reportedly attempting to make deals with media companies for broader TV plans. It has tried and failed in the past, and that could very well happen again.
It's such an inexpensive experiment, however, that the few tricks that Google has packed into the tiny Chromecast may make it worth picking up and plugging into your TV, depending on your media streaming needs.