The new Chromecast with Google TV is essentially an attempt to simplify streaming. Rather than just presenting you with an app launcher for streaming services, the $ 50 streaming dongle attempts to group each service’s movies and TV shows into one easy-to-use menu.
In addition to that smooth veneer, you’ll also find plenty of powerful features to help you get the most out of your TV. Here are 15 ways to make your Chromecast even more useful with Google TV:
Select your streaming services
During setup, you should have a question about which streaming services you are using. The choices you then make will determine which services recommend content to display on the Google TV home screen. If you need to add or remove services later, go to Settings> Accounts & Sign In> [Your Account] > Your services.
Add to your watchlist
One of the best features of Google TV is its universal watchlist, which allows you to keep track of movies and shows across many different streaming services. After selecting a show on the Chromecast with the Google TV home screen, click the “Watch List” button. Your selection will be displayed in a line “From Your Watch List” on the home screen and under the “Library” tab.
Manage your watch list remotely
You can add items to your watchlist even when you are not in front of the TV. Just do a Google search for a movie or show, then click the “Watch List” button under the program list. (This is shown in a right sidebar on the desktop version of Google or under the search bar on mobile.) You can also search for “My Watchlist” to see what you’ve already added.
Alternatively, you can use the Google TV app for Android (and in the future for iOS). From there, you can search for any movie or show and add it to your watchlist.
Rearrange the app row
To rearrange the order of the apps in the “Your Apps” row on the Google TV home screen, long-press any app and select “Move”. Use the arrow keys to move the app, then press the select key to drop it.
To change which apps are shown on the home screen, scroll to the end of the line and select “Show All”. From here, you can long press any app and select “Move” to rearrange it. The top 12 apps are shown on the home screen without hitting the “Show All” button.
Install apps with ease
If you want to install a new app on Chromecast with Google TV, you can simply search for it by going to the “Apps” tab and scrolling down to “Search for Apps”. When the keyboard appears, press and hold the black Google Assistant button on the remote to search for language.
If you are on a computer, you can also install apps remotely from the Google Play Store website. Just click the green “Install” button for an app. As long as it is supported on TVs, you should be able to select your Chromecast from the device list.
Get more out of the Google Assistant
Google has finally brought its full search capabilities to the new Chromecast. Press and hold the black Google Assistant button on the remote and you can search by title, actor, director, or genre. With some streaming services – including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney +, and CBS All Access – you can even start certain movies and shows directly and tune into certain live channels by voice using Sling TV or YouTube TV.
If you’re not sure what to ask Google, just tap the Assistant button on the remote instead of holding it down, or scroll down to the Search tab, which shows the suggested voice commands and genres to search through.
Use hands-free voice control
For those who have a Google Home or Nest smart speaker within earshot, you can ask them to play videos from specific apps. Try saying, “Hey Google, watch The last Dance on Netflix ”or“ Hey Google, watch The Mandalorian on Disney plus ”and the Chromecast automatically opens the app and starts playing the video. This also works for setting live channels on YouTube TV or Sling TV.
If you’re having trouble with voice commands, try including the Chromecast’s name in your request. You can also open the Google Home app on your phone, select your speaker, click the gear icon, and select “Default TV”. From here you can choose your Chromecast to play in response to voice commands.
Optimize your TV controls
As with many other streaming devices, the Chromecast with the Google TV remote control has volume, power and mute buttons, as well as an IR blaster to control these functions on your TV. As an added bonus, it also includes a button to toggle inputs.
Even better, you can use Google to configure the remote control so that each button controls a different element of your A / V system. For example, you can set the power button to control all your devices via HDMI-CEC and the volume button to control a receiver via IR. To set up these controls, go to Settings> Remotes and Accessories> Set Up Remote Control Buttons.
Turn off HDR up-conversion
If you have an HDR-compatible TV, Chromecast with Google TV will run the entire high dynamic range interface, even if the content you are viewing does not support the format. Purists may want to disable this feature so that HDR mode is only enabled for supported content. Go to Settings> Display & Sound> Balance Content, then uncheck “Balance Dynamic Range For Content”.
Use Google Photos for a screensaver
When you’re not actively using your Chromecast, it can still be used as a large screen picture frame thanks to its integration with Google Photos. First, create a live album in Google Photos that uses facial recognition to automatically pull up pictures of selected people. (For more details on how to set it up, see here.)
After creating an album, open the Google Home app on your phone, tap your Chromecast in the device list, tap the gear icon, then choose Environment Mode> Google Photos. Select the Live Album you just created and you should see photos on the TV when it goes into screen saver mode. To view photos instantly, long press the home button and click the icon that shows the time.
You can always go back to general photos by going to Settings> System> Environment Mode.
Set up audio for multiple rooms
The Chromecast with Google TV can work with other Chromecasts, Google Home speakers, and Nest Audio speakers to create an entire home audio system so that all of your music is played in sync across multiple speakers. To set this up, open the Google Home app on your phone, select your Chromecast, click the gear icon and select “Group”. From here you can create a new speaker group or add the Chromecast to an existing group.
Use your phone as a remote control
As the name suggests, Chromecast can use Google TV to cast media to your TV from supported apps. Just press the cast icon in apps like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube and select your Chromecast from the device list to start streaming.
If your remote control is out of range, you can also install the Android TV remote control app on Android or iOS. This provides a directional pad and navigation buttons for controlling the Chromecast from your phone, as well as an on-screen keyboard for entering text.
Use a USB-C hub for accessories
The Chromecast with Google TV only has a single USB-C port for power. However, if you plug a USB-C hub (like this one) into this port, you can plug the Chromecast’s power cord into the hub’s power port and connect all kinds of other accessories. I’ve confirmed this works with game controllers, USB sticks, and USB to ethernet adapters. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t that lucky with a USB TV tuner for wireless broadcasts.)
Remap some buttons
If you don’t need the Netflix and YouTube keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of the remote, you can use them for other functions with the Button Remapper app.
After installing the app, go to Settings> System> Accessibility, click the Remapper button and select “Enable”. You can then select a button from the list to change how it works, or click Add Buttons to remap buttons that are not listed. (Some features, such as remapping the back button, require a $ 5 in-app purchase.)
What can you do with these buttons instead? Try remapping the Netflix button or Enter key to an app of your choice. Or download ATV Launcher and map it to a double tap on the home button so you can quickly access all of the installed apps.
Get rid of recommendations
While the universal guide is arguably the main attraction of Google’s new guide, you can still turn it off if you want something simpler. Just go to Settings> Accounts> (your account) and enable apps only mode. This will hide everything but the top row of teasers can not are unfortunately removed – and your apps list below them.
I’ll be checking out the new Chromecast with Google TV shortly. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us by email or Twitter if you have any further questions.
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