Amazon has introduced a new feature called Alexa Cast that, as you can probably guess, lets you cast music to Alexa devices. It is being rolled out in an update to the Amazon Music app for iOS and Android. Tapping the new casting icon in the app brings up a list of your Alexa devices as well as your Alexa groups as destinations for music. Control between the app and the device remains in sync and can be controlled through either the device or the app simultaneously.
Alexa Cast currently works with Amazon’s Echo line of smart speakers and third-party Alexa devices, but some Alexa devices, like Fire TVs are not supported. While the Amazon Music app is the only app that supports the feature, it’s easy to see how Alexa Cast can be expanded to work in other apps, like Spotify or Pandora, the same way Google Cast is widely supported. However, no such third-party app support or developer API has been announced.
It has always been possible to remotely control music playback on an Alexa device through the Alexa app, but it is a cumbersome experience at best. Using the Amazon Music app is much more intuitive. I wouldn’t be surprised if music control is eventually removed from the Alexa app entirely, as it would not be needed if Alexa Cast is widely adopted.
Unlike other casting protocols, you do not need to be on the same WiFi network as the Alexa device in order to cast music using Alexa Cast. Music playback on Alexa devices can be controlled within the Amazon Music app from anywhere. If you have multi-room audio groups configured for your Echo devices, you can also select the group as the music destination when using Alexa Cast.
Amazon Fire TV devices have had a difficult history with casting protocols. Older models supported Miracast mirroring, but that has been dropped with newer devices. Amazon introduced Amazon Fling on the Fire TV over 3 years ago to compete with Apple AirPlay and Google Cast, but adoption has been stagnant. With the massive success of Alexa, there’s real potential for Alexa Cast to turn into a universal casting protocol with widespread adoption across both Amazon and 3rd-party hardware and apps. As more Alexa devices with screens emerge, Alexa Cast could one day be extended to include video casting.