Apple’s streaming device, the Apple TV, may be the toast of the town right now with its (somewhat) exclusive deal for HBO Now in April, but Google’s ever-evolving Chromecast has added some cool features including using your TV remote to access basic controls, and even turning an Android device into a motion-controlled remote.
Discovered by a user on the Chromecast subreddit, Chromecast now includes a new feature that will allow many users to trade their phone or tablet for their TV remote for basic play/pause functionality. The service should work with any TV that is equipped with HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) communication, which nearly all new TVs offer.
As we reported in our piece about ARC HDMI, CEC can be tricky, and doesn’t always work as intended. Plugging into your TVs ARC HDMI input (if you have one) may help smooth the communication, and some users will also need to enable CEC in their TV’s settings.
However, the new functionality should allow most users to play and pause content from a TV remote while watching a plethora of apps, including HBO Go, YouTube, Allcast, WatchESPN, Plex, And Google Play Music. It’s a very convenient new feature for those tired of controlling basic playback from their mobile device, though it appears the feature unfortunately does not yet work with Netflix.
In addition, a cool new tennis game called Motion Tennis Cast, can essentially turn your Android smartphone into a motion-controlled remote, working very similar to a Wii Controller. As reported by The Next Web, the game developed by Rolocule must first be installed and calibrated on your Android device.
From there, you can move your character into position, and get down and dirty with some serious tennis action, with your choice of four difficulty levels. The TNW report claims playback is fairly intuitive, though it likely won’t be as responsive as Wii Tennis. It’s also a bit of a hazard when it comes to protecting your phone — there’s no strap here, so you’ll have to be careful not to just toss your device into the TV screen. Consider yourself officially warned!
Rolocule is also reportedly working with Android Wear gear, which could allow users to replace their Android phone with a smartwatch for even more intuitive play, and a lot less risk involved. We’ll keep an eye on that update for the near future. No word yet as to whether or not an iOS version is in the works for iPhone, but even if it’s only for Android users, this opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
So there you have it, the world’s most reliable budget streaming device is still growing as it moves towards its second birthday. Chromecast’s $35 price point never looked so good.