Google Home and Chromecast

One of the features I am most impressed with on the Google Home voice assistant is the ability to work with the Chromecast.   Google Home, of course, is Google's stand alone personal assistant.  Chromecast is the inexpensive media player which is so small, it just hangs off the back of your television.

There are a couple of versions of Chromecast, although it doesn't matter because Google Home works with all of them.  The first-generation version looks like an oversize USB Flash Drive, which plugs directly into the HDMI connector on your television.  The second-generation has a round shape with a short length of cable that connects to the HDMI connector. 


USELESS TRIVIA: The first-generation chromecast model number is H2G2-42, which gives a nod to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The second-generation chromecast model number is NC2-6A5 which could be a reference to the USS Enterprise registry code.


Setup

You'll want to get the Google Home App for either Android or iPhone/iPad.  You most likely already have this app installed, as it is used to setup Google Home. It is also where you setup Chromecast. The devices all need to be on the same network in order to communicate with each other. Tap on the hamburger menu in the upper left hand corner, and then choose "Devices"

Make sure you see the two devices listed: (1) Google Home and (2) Chromecast.  It is important to give your Chromecast an appropriate name, as that is how you will refer to it when giving commands to Google Home.  I like to keep mine named after what it is ("Chromecast").  Others might find it easier to name it "TV" or "television".  The screenshot shows the names circled in red.  The name for Google Home itself is not used for playing back videos.

To use Netflix you must link your accounts together.  From the Google Home app choose Devices > (three vertical dots in corner of Google Home) > Settings > More > Videos and Photos > Netflix.  Now tap on the "LINK" button and you will be guided to enter your Netflix login details.

Using

The current level of integration between Google Home and Chromecast allows you to control playback of YouTube videos, Netflix and audio.  The overall rule is that you add "...on my chromecast" (or what you named it) to any voice command you would normally use to play music.  Let's check it out with some examples:

  • To play a YouTube video, simply say "Ok Google, play the latest humor video on my chromecast"
  • To play music say "Ok Google, play The Beatles on my Chromecast".
  • To play videos on a topic, say "Ok Google, play videos about cooking on my Chromecast"

That's all there is to it.  What I really like is that when playing videos on a topic, it will continue to play related videos without you needing to say anything else. You move to the next (or previous) video (or song) in a series by saying "Ok Google, Next" or "Ok Google, Previous".  You can stop playback with "Ok Google, Stop"

It is really cool to experience voice control of what you are watching.  I find it much easier (and quicker) than using an App.  Of course, there are times an App might make more sense, using voice is completely natural.

The Future

Google promises support coming for playing videos from the Google Play store. Although no timeline has been given to when we should expect it.

 

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