Google has just announced its next-gen Chromecast streaming stick, and just like earlier reports said, it's taken on a circular form and has donned more colorful shells. The company says its antenna system allows it to stream higher-resolution videos significantly faster, with less buffering. It even comes with a feature called "Fast Play" that gives it the ability to establish a connection with your TV more quickly than the original version can. Fast Play works by preloading content -- it can, for instance, start downloading a series episode -- the moment you fire up the media player's app. In addition, Mountain View has redesigned the Chromecast app (for both Android and iOS) to list Cast-enabled applications installed on your device, to find content within them and to display its latest offers and updates.
According to Google, the streaming stick's new design (small and round, with an integrated HDMI cable) makes it easier to plug into the HDMI port even if you have other devices plugged in. It will be available in lemonade, coral and black starting today in 17 countries and will set you back $35 when you buy it from the Google Store, Best Buy or Wal-Mart. By the way, the company has also confirmed that Chromecast is now compatible with Spotify, the new Showtime app, as well as NBA's and MLS' applications.
Get all the news from today's Google event right here.