Chromecast has been woefully short on streaming music options ever since it launched in July, but that’s changing with the arrival of Pandora support.
If you have Pandora’s iPhone or Android app, you can now use it to play music through the television with Google’s $35 Chromecast dongle. You should see the little Cast button near the playback controls as long as your app is up to date. Support for Apple’s iPad is coming soon.
I gave it a quick spin, and it works well enough. Because you’re just controlling everything through Pandora’s existing mobile app, all the service’s features are in place already. You can give songs the thumbs up or thumbs down, and look at artist bios as you listen. The app also lets you use your phone or tablet’s hardware buttons to turn the volume up or down on Chromecast.
On a related note, Pandora just optimized its Android app for tablets such as the Nexus 7, taking advantage of the extra screen space with artist bios and a navigation sidebar. It’s no longer just a blown-up smartphone app, and it looks great.
The Chromecast support isn’t flawless, however. Pandora doesn’t sync your activity across devices, so if you start using a second phone or tablet, it won’t pick up playback from the device you were using before. It’s also unclear whether Pandora will add native Chromecast support through the desktop version of Chrome. If you want to stream music from a laptop, you still have to use Chromecast’s clunky tab mirroring feature, which is in beta.
Still, it’s nice to see another streaming music option on Chromecast. Until now, Google Play Music was the only choice, and that app isn’t even available to iOS users–at least not yet. Again, you can use tab mirroring to stream any music service to Chromecast from a laptop, but that doesn’t help if you’re just lounging around with a phone or tablet.
What’s next for Chromecast? Nobody outside of Google seems to know. After Chromecast launched, a whole bunch of companies pledged to support the device, including Revision3, Vevo, Songza and Twitch.tv. So far the only other addition has been Hulu Plus. Although Google has released development tools for app makers to play with, no one’s been allowed to launch Chromecast support without Google’s explicit permission. Google won’t say if or when it will open the app floodgates.