Google has pushed out a brand new streaming dongle—the Chromecast with Google TV. This new gadget was designed to be a one-stop solution for all your audio and video streaming needs, and it’s part Chromecast, part Android TV, with an extra layer of Google TV on top.
If you’ve never heard of it before, you’re not alone. Google TV is a more modern interface for Android TV, and acts as a second skin in the same way that Samsung and OnePlus have a customized version of Android on their mobile devices.
Google TV will also replace the Google Play Movies & TV app on Android and iOS. This means users will have one uniform video interface across all your devices, so you can access Google’s library, plus services like Netflix and Hulu, in the same place. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is—Google is now taking the same approach Apple did with Apple TV.
With this refreshed version of Android TV on board, the new Chromecast dongle can do more than its predecessors—it can run its own apps and sync its own content rather than relying on your phone, and it has its own separate remote.
Sit back, relax, and you’ll find there are plenty of cool features to explore with this new gadget.
1. Install all of your apps
One of the ways Google TV improves on Android TV is bringing together movies and shows from across all the streaming services you’re signed up to, so you’ll see a mix of them in your recommendations and search results.
For this to work well though, you’ll need to install and sign into all of the apps you subscribe to. Scroll along the top navigation bar until you reach the Apps screen, then scroll through the categories or run a search for a particular app.
If you select a film or show that’s available on more than one of your streaming apps, Google TV gives you a choice in the Ways to watch button—you might be able to stream a film on Netflix, for example, or buy it directly from Google to watch whenever you want.
2. Build up your watchlist
Your personal watchlist can be a helpful way to keep track of everything you want to watch across all of your streaming services. Select a title from anywhere in the Google TV interface, then choose Watchlist on the next screen to add it to your list.
You can view your watchlist from the Library section of the Google TV interface, and from the platform’s app on mobile. You can also just type “my watchlist” into Google on the web, and as long as you’re signed in with the same account, your bookmarked items will appear.
Google allows this watchlist to follow you across devices, so when you search for a movie or TV show on the main Google search engine online, you’ll see a Watchlist option in the pane on the right. Anything you add from the web gets synced back to the watchlist on Google TV.
3. Improve your recommendations
Google TV throws up plenty of suggestions for stuff that it thinks you’ll like based on what you’ve watched in the past. To improve them, open up the listing page for a movie or show, then scroll right to the thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons to tell Google what you thought of it.
Note the Watched it? button as well—if you tell Google TV you’ve watched something, you won’t see it in your recommendations for what to watch next.
4. Search with your voice
The Chromecast with Google TV comes with voice controls for accessing Google Assistant and finding new stuff to watch. Long press on the Assistant button on the remote (the one with colored spots), and speak out your search requests—ask for movies with Tom Hanks in them, funny American sitcoms, or movies from the 1960s.
If you can think of a query, the Google TV interface can probably understand it. If you need more help running a search, the filters at the top of the screen can help you narrow down the results further, and you’ll be able to see titles by genre or by date, for example.
5. Carry on Chromecasting
All the focus on Google TV might make you forget that your new streaming dongle is still a Chromecast. But you can definitely still use your phone, tablet, or laptop to beam movies, music, and TV shows over to a bigger screen.
Maybe you want to get a web browser tab from your laptop up on your TV, for example. In Chrome, click the three dots (top right) then Cast—you should see the Chromecast with Google TV appear if it’s on the same Wi-Fi network.
6. Make the most of your remote
The Chromecast with Google TV is the first Chromecast to come with its own remote control, so you should learn how to use it. Open Settings by selecting your account profile picture (top right), then choose Display and sound, and enable HDMI-CEC so your TV turns on and off at the same time as the Chromecast dongle.
Your TV will need to support the feature, and you’ll also need to turn it on in your TV’s settings, but most sets now come with HDMI-CEC support and have it enabled by default. You might see it called something different, though—Samsung calls it Anynet+ for example, and Sony calls it Bravia Sync—but make sure to check your TV’s instructions if you’re not sure.
From the same settings panel, choose Remotes & accessories, then Set up remote buttons. That way, your Chromecast remote will also be able to control the volume level on your TV and switch TV inputs if needed.
7. Rearrange the home screen
You’ll find a list of your installed apps on both the For you and Apps screens (selected at the top of the interface), but you don’t have to settle for the default order Google TV puts them in.
To move your favorite apps to the front of the list for easier access, highlight an app, then long press on the select button on the remote (in the center of the circle). You’ll then be able to choose Move and reposition the app.