Gone are the days where you need to rush home to your TV screen to watch a must-see TV like the World Series. Today, you have multiple means of watching the World Series. First, you can DVR it but that isn’t exciting. With the Internet, smart phones, and social media, it is almost impossible to avoid finding out the result if you watch the game at a later time. You can also follow game casts through Yahoo Sports, ESPN, or MLB.com where you can almost see pitch by pitch updates. However, if you want to watch near real time stream of the game you have a few (legal) options.
Unfortunately, none of these are free with the exception of Sling TV. With Sling TV, you can get a free 7 day trial but it requires a valid credit card and you must cancel prior. If you have a cable / satellite subscription, you can use Fox Sports Go for free with your cable / satellite sign in.
Google announced today that the latest Chrome update includes the Cast option by default. Previously, you had to go to the Chrome Webstore from your Chrome browser, search for Google Cast extension, download then install. As of now, the Google Cast version Version: 15.1120.0.4 updated March 2016 is still available on the webstore. If you have Chrome browser Version 52.0.2743.116 m for Windows, it will have Cast icon at the upper right of your screen.
Google bragged that in the month of July, users have cast content from their Chrome browser over 38 million times while watching and listening to more then 50 million hours of content.
This improved integration will encourage more people to Cast their screen or content. You can also now seamlessly Cast Hangouts, play games, Google Education tools, and content that supports Chromecast.
Note, this is for PC devices only and not for Chrome mobile browser. There is no word yet if or when we can Cast from Chrome mobile browser.
Google just concluded their annual I/O conference. Google’s I/O is a 3 day conference is designed to bring together developers around the world to showcase its upcoming products in software, mobile, and technology. One of the more interesting product Google showcased is Google Home. Google Home is the answer to Amazon’s surprisingly successful Echo powered by Alexa. Google claimed Home is their very own assistant. During the 2016 I/O showcase, Google played a video of how Home can be used during a typical morning routine of a family. You can see the video here:
There were only two features that were unique to Google’s Cast enabled devices which are not available to Amazon’s Echo. First, is the ability to issue command to all Google Cast enabled speakers. The father in the clip issued, “Google, turn on music to all the rooms.” as a way to wake up the kids in the house. The other feature was to issue a show command which triggered a Chromecast to play a video. There was also a sequence where the father asked Google to check the traffic and upon reporting the traffic, the shortest route was sent to the phone.
For the time being, Google has offered scarce details on Google Home. It guaranteed integration to Cast enabled devices and services such as making dinner reservations and text messaging. It will be interesting to see the availability as well as the price. Google indicated that they purposely limited its functionality of the Home but it must have some wow factor to get people to jump from Amazon’s Echo or have both the Home and Echo in the same house.
Google recently announced that it has renamed the Chromecast to simply Google Cast and this came into effect in the app store earlier in the month. When we hear the term, “Chromecast”, we immediately think of perhaps the first generation video streaming HDMI dongle which turned out to become a huge hit. With the introduction of 2nd generation Chromecast, Chromecast audio and Cast enabled devices from companies such as Sony, LG, Bang and Oulfson, Sonos, and more, it makes sense to recast the technology to simply Google Cast.
Some noticeable changes.
You will no longer find the Chromecast app in the Google Play or Apple App store. Instead, it is simply Google Cast. Once installed, you will see noticeable differences. The app now has 3 tabs: What’s On, Devices, Get Apps.
What’s On will introduce to you content which is trending or recently released. Today’s feature is the new Star Wars Rogue One Trailer which was announced this morning on Youtube. Right below, it gives me suggestions from Netflix and then WatchESPN and so forth. All apps which support Google Cast on my device.
Under Devices, it will show all the Cast enabled devices you have set up or used.
In the Get Apps tab, the Google Cast App will suggest other Cast enabled apps you can download. It will also suggest games which are Cast compatible.
This is likely the beginning of Google Cast and this lucrative market of streaming and on demand media.
Google updated their photos recently giving numerous features such as UNLIMITED backup for lower quality photos. This is done automatically when you set up auto-backup. For original size pictures, you are limited to 15GB. This has been handy and it competes with other offers such as Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon Cloud, and other services such as Dropbox and Box. However, Chromecast users who enjoyed casting directly from Google Photos were dissapointed and somewhat shocked that the updated app lost support for Chromecast. Word is that Google is working to re-enable and there is no info on why the support for Chromecast was dropped.
Meanwhile, here are some features from Google Photos:
Visual Search – Capability to sort and search by tags or people by face if you enable this feature.
Auto Backup – Set auto backup and no need to manually backup your photos again! Take pictures and sign in when you are on your PC or tablet to see and edit the pictures.
Save space – Everything is in the cloud so you do not need to worry about running out of space on your phone.
Bringing photos to life – Google Photos can automatically create slideshows, collage, or videos by associating similar photos or photos taken at a particular location or time.
Editing – handy tools where you can do basic editing like cropping, filters, rotating the photos.
Sharing – share individual photos, albums, or via url link which you can email or text.
Rediscover – go back in time and look at what you did weeks, months, years back.
Your Chromecast may have poor video quality when casting a Chrome tab to your TV. This is usually due to two things which can cause freezing, stuttering, or pixelating on your TV. Here are some things you can try to fix poor video quality on your Chromecast.
Computer performance causing video issues with Chromecast: Check the power settings on your computer which you are casting the tab from Chrome. Check to make sure your computer does not go to sleep or go into power saving mode which is set by default on most laptops. Close down any unused applications, programs, or windows. Temporarily reduce it from the default high definition 720p to 480p through the Options Menu on the Cast icon.
Network Issue causing poor video quality Chromecast:
The performance of Chromecast highly depends on your WiFi connection. Your WiFi connection in turn depends on the speed of your Internet. In my experience, you should have at least 3mb Internet speed and faster. WiFi routers varies but your TV and Chromecast should not have too many walls in between. For example, if you have your WiFi router located one end of the room, you will likely experience issues trying to connect it to a Chromecast at the opposite side of your house or basement. You can try to move your router or purchase an extender or repeater to extend the range of your WiFi network. You can also try to use the HDMI extender to distance the Chromecast device from your TV. If you are casting a tab from a PC / Laptop, make sure it has good strength indicating on the WiFi connection. You can also check if the WiFi channel is overlapping with another device through WiFi manager apps available on Play Store and App Store. If you have multiple users streaming through Youtube or other services, it may hamper the performance.
How to factory reset a Chromecast:
If you tried all of the above and still have video quality issues regardless of casting from a tab or casting from an app, as a last resort, you can try to do a reset on your Chromecast to see if clearing the cache will resolve your issue. In order to reset, you can do it two ways.
After several comments that Amazon Prime blocked Chromecast, I digged into it a bit more and found out that this may be due to Microsoft Silverlight. If you do not have it installed, select ‘Flash Player’ and it will still work. Here are some snapshots.
My PC doesn’t have Silverlight installed so instead of installing the plugin, I selected Adobe Flash player. I then started the movie, cast this tab from my Chrome browser and clicked full screen and I am watching movie from Amazon Prime using Chromecast. Below is another snapshot.
Lately I have been having issues where the cast would freeze. Chromecast has ‘ready to cast’ on the TV but the Chromecast will not be found on your devices. The only fix is to unplug the USB power source and plugging back in. This seems to fix it but the Chromecast is extremely hot. Has anyone experienced this?