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Audio

Google casts Internet music to its rightful home: speakers

The tech giant wants to do for music streaming what it did for movie streaming -- make it simple to access entertainment from the Internet with your mobile device and play it on your living room gear.

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Denon's Heos speakers will be compatible with Google Cast for audio. Denon

Google, which made it easy to stream movies from the Internet onto your TV with its low-cost Chromecast device, is now making a pitch to let you stream online music to your stereo system.

The search giant on Monday announced new software called Google Cast for audio that lets you stream music and other audio content from mobile apps like Pandora and Rdio directly to speakers. Google said compatible speakers will be available in the spring, from brands including Sony, LG and Denon.

The audio push, announced during the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is the latest expansion of Google's products and services for streaming entertainment over the Internet. In 2013, it released the Chromecast, a $35 digital media player controlled by smartphones and tablets that plugs into TVs and lets you stream content from online video services like Netflix and HBO Go.

Google, Apple and Amazon are all investing in streaming software and hardware as they fight to power your laptop, mobile devices and the equipment in your living rooms, including TVs and stereos. In October, Google's Chromecast app -- which powers the device -- was the most downloaded app for devices connected to the Internet, according to analytics firm App Annie.

Google Cast for audio is supported in Google's Android mobile operating system and Apple's iOS software for the iPhone and iPad. If you're listening to audio through a mobile app like Pandora, you'll now be be able to tap a button in the app to send the sound to a speaker capable of receiving the signal.

Aside from Pandora and Rdio, Google Cast for audio will also work with services including Google Play Music, iHeartRadio and NPR One. Notably missing from the initial announcement is Spotify, the world's top streaming music service. Mario Queiroz, a vice president of product management at Google, said the company is working on more partnerships.

Streaming music from apps like Pandora isn't entirely new to Google. The Chromecast can also stream songs from audio apps to TVs. But for listening to music, it makes more sense to stream to high-quality speakers instead of connecting to a TV.

Google has been working to broaden the range and reach of its streaming services. In December, the company extended the Chromecast -- which is available in more than 20 countries -- to India, the second most populous consumer market in the world. In October, it also unveiled the Nexus Player, a $99 streaming box powered by Android TV, Google's operating system for televisions. That device competes in part with other streaming media devices including Roku and Apple TV.