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Google Cast is recast as Google Home companion app

Ready to release its Home voice-operated speaker next week, the company has delivered an update to its old Google Cast setup app.

Google is gearing up for the release of the Google Home smart speaker on November 2 with the release of the companion app. Originally called Google Cast, the new Google Home app, released this week, lets you cast content to compatible devices over your network as well as set up multiroom audio groups.

While the app looks similar to Google Cast, there is one major change -- you no longer click the "Devices" tab. You now click a new icon in the top right to add Google devices.

Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

This button will bring up previously discovered devices in a list as well as add a blue "Add Device" button at the bottom. This screen also enables you to group devices -- whether Chromecast Audio dongles or compatible Google Cast devices from the likes of Sony, Raumfeld (soon) or LG.

Casting to groups is the same as casting to a single device -- just tap the name of the group under the Chromecast icon in compatible apps and all of the devices in the group will play simultaneously. Groups are currently limited to audio devices and not video dongles such as the Chromecast Ultra.

The Google Home speaker is available for preorder for $129 and is a competitor to the Amazon Echo. (That price converts to about £100 or AU$170, but Google hasn't said if it'll be available beyond the US.) Like the Echo, the Google Home lets you use voice commands via a microphone built into the device.

While Amazon claims its Alexa assistant now knows over 3,000 different skills -- including Logitech Harmony integration -- Google has yet to announce a comprehensive list of compatible devices.

Look out for a full review of the Google Home and how it compares to other digital assistants and multiroom speakers very soon.

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