It’s helped me cut the cable, I gave it as a Christmas gift two years in a row (to different people), I have several in my home, and I carry one in my laptop bag to stream content on the road.
And if you’ve seen any of us on the road, you may have seen some cool stuff we’ve built for the Chromecast.
Back in June, Google announced a killer feature for the little HDMI gizmo, ultrasonic pairing, which promised to remove the necessity for a device to be connected to the same wifi network as the Chromecast to which it was casting.
That feature, guest mode, rolled out in December for Android devices running 4.3 and higher, and it is as awesome as expected.
It’s very easy to setup and use.
First, you need to enable guest mode for your Chromecast. I tried this initially in the Mac Chromecast app, but alas, it has not yet been updated to include this option, same with iOS. So, you’ll need to use the Android Chromecast mobile app, like so:
Once enabled, the PIN is displayed on the Chromecast’s backdrop, and anyone in the room can cast to it via the PIN or by audio pairing.
When attempting to connect, the Chromecast first tries the audio method; the Chromecast app asks to use the device’s microphone, and Chromecast broadcasts the PIN via audio tone.
Failing that (or if you skip the audio pairing), the user is prompted by the Chromecast app to enter the PIN manually.
Easy stuff, right? In case you’re worried that someone not in the room could commandeer your Chromecast, they can’t, at least according to Google. Being a skeptic, I tested this myself, and sure enough, the audio method won’t work if there are walls separating the device from the Chromecast. The app fails to pair via audio and asks for the PIN, which you can only get from the TV screen itself.
Not entirely foolproof, but good enough.
So why is this a cool feature? In a word, collaboration. Guest mode allows people to share artifacts and collaborate (remember, Chromecast has a browser) on a big screen without requiring them all to join the same wifi network.
Plus, it’s a modern way to torture your friends and family with your boring vacation pictures and movies.
More and more apps now support Chromecast, making it all the more valuable, e.g. the Disney Movies app, a must-have for me. Bonus for that app, it’s among the first that I know of to bridge the Google and Apple ecosystems, i.e. it consolidates all the Disney movies I’ve bought on iTunes and Google Play into a single app.
Thoughts? Find the comments.