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Here's how you can get more out of your Chromecast

It’s a handy device, but there are other features included that you might not be aware of.

Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

IF YOU HAVE one already, then chances are you know just how handy a Chromecast is. The streaming device allows you to throw up certain Android and iOS apps from the small screen to the big.

If you already know the basics, then there may be a few other things that you mightn’t be aware of.

Allow guests to stream from it

Until December, the only way you could stream a device through a Chromecast was to share your WiFi password with someone.

Now Guest Mode allow you to bypass this requirement. Once you activate it (Go to devices > Guest Mode > On), anyone with a compatible app can connect by entering in a four-digit PIN on the TV.

This feature is only available for Android devices as iOS isn’t compatible with Guest Mode.

Source: Google Chrome/YouTube

Stream local photos/video from your phone

While you can already stream video and photos from apps like YouTube, but what about local content saved on your phone. Well, there are a few apps which allow you to do that -although they’re not perfect – and one example is ES File Explorer File Manager.

By installing it, you can view your photos and play videos through the app and display them on the big screen, saving you the trouble of having to upload them to YouTube or a different app. Other apps like Plex and Localcast are also great for performing the same tasks.

Be warned though, Chromecast is best when it’s streaming from online network instead of a local device so it may stutter at some point during videos.

Source: UneaPop/YouTube

Look out for offers

Google sometimes throws out offers and deals for Chromecast users which can either be a free movie or credit that you can spend yourself.

There’s a dedicated Offers page highlighting the latest deals although there are a few caveats to be aware of before you get excited. The first thing is you need to be using Chrome on desktop and download the Chromecast extension for it. Once you have that done, you have to agree to the terms

The offers aren’t anything amazing, and most are aimed towards those using it for the first time, but it’s worth keeping an eye on in case something catches your interest.

Chromecast offers Source: Chromecast Offers

Add your own photos to the slideshow

You know those images that appear when your Chromecast is on standby? You can customise them to show your own images or choose the content categories instead. When you’re in Chromecast, bring up the navigation drawer and select Backdrop. Here you can select your own photos as well as that of news, lifestyle and satellite photos as well.

For now, the only personal photos that are shown come from Google+ so you will need to save them there first if you want them to appear.

Listen to content through your headphones

While you’re probably wondering what the advantage is to watching Netflix or YouTube through Chromecast instead of through the web or your TV, the answer is headphones.

Localcast is an app which allows you to route the audio to your phone when you’re playing a video on your phone. The only caveat is this only works with local content on your phone, it won’t work if you try to watch a show on Netflix, for example, and you will have to do some experimentation first to ensure the audio and video is aligned.

Source: Stefan Pledl/YouTube

Play games through it

Alongside a large collection of streaming apps and services, there are a few free games to download for it that you can play yourself or with a friend.

The quality overall isn’t the best – it’s mostly games like Monopoly Dash and Wheel of Fortune – but you can have some fun with friends if you play something like Just Dance Now which tracks your movement using your smartphone.

Source: Ubisoft UK/YouTube

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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