We've been hearing more and more about Cast-enabled TVs and speakers with Chromecast built-in so we thought we'd break down what that actually means, how you can use it and which devices are compatible with the technology.
Similar to Apple's AirPlay and Spotify Connect, what Google is now referring to as 'Chromecast built-in' to the public and 'Google Cast' to developers is another technology that lets you easily control media with apps and yes, voice in your smart home.
What is Chromecast built-in?
In a nutshell, it's a technology built by Google that works over Wi-Fi to let you send or 'cast' media from your phone, tablet or computer to compatible speakers and TVs. The most well known Cast-enabled device range, though, is probably still those nifty Chromecast dongles which plug into your TV to upgrade its smarts and the $69 4K Chromecast Ultra is one of our top streaming sticks.
There is also an equivalent for audio - the Chromecast Audio - an affordable $35 add-on which plugs into your existing speakers via the aux in to get them connected.
The Cast controller can be an iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone or tablet, Mac, Windows laptop or Chromebook. Essentially it turns your phone into your remote control.
The way it works, at its simplest, is this: you go to a supported mobile app - which includes YouTube, Google Play Movies + TV, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Now - or the Chrome browser then you either hit the Cast icon on the homescreen of the app first or select what you want to watch first then click the Cast icon. With music and radio apps like Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music and TuneIn Radio it works much the same.
There are now over 1,000 Cast-enabled apps - you can see the full list here but some more choice picks are: Now TV, Chrome, Facebook, ITV Hub, My5, Soundcloud, YouTube Gaming, Deezer and Plex.
As for voice controls, if you have a Google Assistant device and a Chromecast you can say commands like "Hey Google, cast House of Cards" and even set up your personal profile via Voice Match. This annoyingly isn't available on smart TVs with Chromecast built-in - yet. You can also use voice commands via the Google Assistant app for Android and iOS.
Chromecast built-in: Devices
Google's Chromecast itself could well be your entry point to this Google smart home tech but there's actually a lot more to it.
So Android TVs - the name for sets running on Google's TV platform - made by Sony, Philips and Sharp come with Chromecast built-in (no need for any add-ons, though there is some difference in functionality) as do TVs by Toshiba, Vizio and Skyworth plus future Android TV models announced by LG and Hisense.
As for music, you can cast from music apps (or streaming websites via the Chrome browser) to stream over Wi-Fi to Cast enabled speakers - you can control the music with more than one device at a time, you don't have to be in the same room (as you might with Bluetooth in a big house) and it works with compatible multi-room speakers.
The music streams directly from the cloud to the speaker - your phone or tablet just acts as the controller so you can answer a phone call while the music's playing and not worry about your battery draining either.
Chromecast built-in: TVs
- Vizio P-Series, M-Series, E-Series TVs
- Sharp Aquos Android TVs
- Sony Bravia Android TVs
- Toshiba Cast TVs - L511, L711, L221, L421, L621
- Philips Android TVs
- Skyworth U5 Cast TV
- Polaroid 4K UHD LED TV
- Soniq UHD Chromecast built-in TV
Chromecast built-in: Speakers
- B&O Play A9, A6 and M5
- Vizio SmartCast Crave
- Sony LF-S50G, various soundbars, AV receivers, Hi-Fi systems, Muteki, portable Bluetooth speakers
- LG various soundbars, portable Bluetooth speakers and Hi-Fi systems with LG ThinQ coming soon
- Philips 3.1 soundbar speaker
- Harman Kardon Omni+
- NAD C338 DAC Amplifier
- Plus speakers from Grundig, Polk, Bang & Olufsen, Onkyo, JBL and Pioneer
- Coming soon: Cast enabled speakers from Toshiba and Solis