Which is better, huddling around a 5-inch screen or a 50-inch TV? Google is making that answer a lot easier with a few upgrades to its HDMI dongle. Chromecast can mirror your device's screen to the flat-panel in your living room. The stage demo included using Google Earth and even Android's video camera app. Even more than that, the HDMI dongle is getting a little more personalized too. You know those pretty-looking images that populate your TV screen when you're using the device? You'll soon be able to customize the images of that ambient feed (seen when idle) with your own personal Google+ photo albums.
Chromecast and Google Cast API
Not happy with your own pics or just don't use G+ for photo storage? You can enable geographically filtered pictures from Google's vast image catalog, too. These albums are curated by the search giant, so they're ensured (in theory) to be safe and high quality. The feature is dubbed Backdrop, and it's rolling out to all users this summer. If you're still not pleased with even those choices, the search giant says it's working to open this up to third-party developers, too -- the likes of Flickr and 500px images are about to go prime time.
Mountain View's streaming stick add-ons aren't stopping there, either. Google announced today that other users can cast to your TV without being on the same WiFi network now, too. This is pretty neat if you don't want to give out your password or go through the arduous process of getting a long, mixed-character sequence right. All your pals will need to do is enter the PIN on the screen; Google determines that they're in the same room by location. Seems pretty simple.