There’s nothing quite like Google’s Chromecast Audio — a tiny disc that lets you wirelessly sling music to practically any dumb speaker, even create multi-room audio configurations like a poor man’s Sonos setup, just by plugging into its 3.5mm line-out and adding some power over micro-USB.
And that’s why it’s such a shame Google is discontinuing the dongle today. The company provided The Verge (and Android Police, earlier) with this statement:
Our product portfolio continues to evolve, and now we have a variety of products for users to enjoy audio. We have therefore stopped manufacturing our Chromecast Audio products. We will continue to offer assistance for Chromecast Audio devices, so users can continue to enjoy their music, podcasts and more.
What makes it more tragic is that unlike Amazon, Google doesn’t have an inexpensive alternative that’ll do the same thing. While the Amazon Echo Dot, often on sale for $30, has a 3.5mm line-out so it can cast audio and take your voice assistant commands, the typically price-matched Google Home Mini does not.
If we had to guess, Google’s axing the Chromecast Audio because a refreshed Google Home Mini with 3.5mm is on the way. But then again, Google doesn’t seem to like headphone jacks very much these days. No matter how user-hostile and stupid a decision it is to ditch the headphone jack, they’ve fallen out of favor across the industry, which sucks because USB-C has been a mess.
The good news is that you can still find the Chromecast Audio on closeout today, and for a pretty attractive price too: $15 (normally $35). Here it is at Google, and it looks like most major online retailers (save Amazon, naturally) still have stock too.
I’ll be buying one now. And judging by The Verge’s internal chatroom, I might not be alone.