The Chromecast continues its inexorable rise to world domination and the latest version of Android comes with the option to cast your device’s screen straight to the dongle plugged into your television set. Why would you want to do this when so many apps already support Chromecast? We’ve got five potential uses you might be interested in.
Casting your screen from Lollipop isn’t difficult to do, but we’ll cover it anyway in case you’ve just installed the new OS and haven’t got your bearings yet. Drag down the notification drawer then drag down again to show the extended options panel; alternatively drag down with two fingers from the top of the home screen. Choose Cast screen, select your Chromecast, and you’re good to go.
1. Show off your photos
Chromecasting isn’t all about you; it’s also about showing off your screen to the other people in the room. Android’s default photo app comes with a cast option but there are many apps where the feature isn’t available: Snapchat, Instagram, Dropbox, Facebook and so on. Give your images the big screen treatment they deserve and let everyone else view them without having to crowd around your phone.
2. Check your camera viewfinder
If you’re using your phone’s flashlight to look down the back of the television cabinet or underneath the sink then you won’t be able to see the screen all that easily. Switch on the screen casting feature and your TV acts as a giant viewfinder: You can watch your kids from another room, see what’s under the sofa, make sure everyone is in position for the perfect remote controlled group shot, and so on and so on.
3. Play games
This is one you’ve probably already thought of without our help, though the lag between your device and the Chromecast may have put you off. That lag is certainly noticeable and means fast-paced games are out of the question, but puzzle and strategy titles usually look great when transferred to the big screen. It’s particularly helpful if family or friends are sitting around and want to watch what’s happening, whether or not they’re actually playing with you.
4. Get an audio boost
Remember that casting your screen transfers the audio to your HDMI Chromecast dongle as well as the video. Plenty of music apps include a Chromecast option, like Google Play Music and Rdio, but some don’t. Spotify, we’re looking in your direction. The option to cast your device’s screen can come in handy for any app where you want to improve the audio, from music to podcasts to video calls.
5. Monitor social media
None of the big social media apps have a Chromecast button yet, so you can use Lollipop’s built-in option to get your Facebook news feed or your Twitter timeline up on the TV screen. If you’re running some kind of event where you want to have a certain hashtag on display, then the cast screen option can come in helpful here too. It’s useful for watching any kind of video content, from Facebook to Vine.