The Google Chromecast 2 is cheap and versatile – and for around £30, it delivers pretty much everything you’d want. Google’s streaming dongle can pair with your phone to make your dumb TV smart – and it also makes it easy to stream content from apps such as BBC iPlayer and the Google Play store.
However, you can do even more with the Chromecast 2 if you know where to look. Here’s a list of eight hidden features, tips and tricks you can use with Google’s streaming dongle.
If you’ve got an Android phone, you can actually use your Chromecast with Kodi, the free streaming app. With Kodi, you’ll be able to stream the best content on the web straight to your TV, and installing and setting up the app is actually pretty simple. If you’re interested in setting Kodi up on your Chromecast, read our step-by-step guide here.
2. Play games
The original Chromecast was perfect for streaming TV and films, but the Google Chromecast 2 adds games to the mix. Although there are currently only a handful of games available for the streamer, they’re surprisingly good. And the best bit? The Chromecast 2 lets you play games with multiple players – and they can use their own smartphone as a buzzer or controller. Great for parties!
3. Stream your music
Video of Chromecast: How to cast using Google Play Music
The Chromecast 2 also lets you stream music straight to your TV. People with better speakers might be better off getting a Chromecast Audio instead, but if you’ve already got a home audio system attached to your TV, it’s a useful feature to have. Enabling it is easy, too.
4. Increase the quality
The Chromecast lets you stream almost anything from your laptop to your TV, but if you think the quality isn’t up to scratch, there might be a fix. If you’ve got the Chromecast extension installed in your browser, you can actually check the quality of the stream.
Head to the Cast icon in your browser, and select “Option”. You’ll then see three different bit rates – click 720p for the best picture, or 480p if your connection is slower.
5. Use it with your TV remote
The Chromecast 2 is easy to control when you’ve got your smartphone to hand, but what about when it’s elsewhere? Thankfully, Google has made it possible to control the Chromecast with your regular TV remote.
If your TV supports HDMI-CEC, it’s likely you’ll be able to pause, rewind and play with your existing remote. However, the feature is still in its early stages, so might not work for every model of TV.
6. Change your backdrop
The Chromecast 2 offers more personalisation this time round, and it’s possible to upload your own pictures and use them as a backdrop. To set it up, just head over the Chromecast app and click on the Devices tab, and then the gear icon. From there, you’ll be able to access backdrops, and choose the images displayed on your Chromecast.
It’s possible to link your Google Photos, Facebook and Flickr accounts to the dongle, but if you’re tired of your own snaps, Google lets you choose pictures from a range of other categories, from satellite images to art.
7. Use a wired connection
One of the best things about the Chromecast 2 is its ability to stream wirelessly, but sometimes a wired connection is best. If you’re having difficulties with your wireless connection, you can make your wireless Chromecast 2 wired with the £15 Ethernet adapter. It might not look as pretty, but it’ll certainly get the job done.
8. Control presentations
Video of Show up, dont set up: Google Slides supports Chromecast and AirPlay
The Google Chromecast 2 is great for entertainment and leisure, but it also makes a good tool for work. If you’re using Google Slides – which is available for both Android and iOS – Google’s Chromecast 2 lets you project your presentations to the big screen.
After installing the app and opening your presentation, simply click the Chromecast button, and your presentation will be beamed straight to a connected TV. As you’d expect, everything you do on your smartphone is echoed onscreen, so you can switch slides just by swiping.
Read next: The Alphr review of the Google Chromecast 2.
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