Voice input, remote control buttons come to the Chromecast menu on YouTube’s Android app

If your plans this holiday season involve not moving far away from your couch as you catch up on all the videos from your favourite YouTube creators and channels that you may have missed during the years then Google just turned on what may perhaps be the best Christmas cheer for you.

A new change has shown up on my phone over the last 24 hours as I used various television sets to cast content from my phone to them.

The YouTube team is rolling out an interesting change that brings the best of both worlds of some of the best services and features in the Google ecosystem: YouTube and Chromecast.

You see, what usually happens when you cast content from your phone to a connected TV is that you usually get a soft control menu on the casting device that can control whatever is being cast without the need to engage another device, like the TV’s own remote control. In fact, on Android TV devices, that is usually the best way to go around it as using the TV or streaming box’s own remote control is limited to just two functions: pause and play.

In the new arrangement, which is rolling out as an update on both the TV side of things as well as the phones, users now get a more fully-featured remote control option that allows them not just control over what’s currently playing on TV but also access to other things like the recommended videos by using the navigation keys that are now available on the mobile YouTube app whenever one is casting video content to a compatible device (TV or streaming box).

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New features unavailable

New features enabled

In addition to the new virtual remote, users can also decide to ditch it and use yet another feature: voice control. This is especially ideal to those that have normalized barking into their Google Assistant-enabled remote controllers or any other smart devices with the Assistant that they may have set up.

In my testing, version 2.1.491 of the YouTube app on Samsung smart TVs, which rolled out only yesterday (December 20th), is what is needed in order to complement the new features which come with version 14.50.53 of the mobile. Recent updates on other TVs and TV platforms should also be able to yield the same results as mine.

I was not able to get the new features on my NVIDIA Shield as the YouTube for Android TV app running on it is still stuck at version 2.08.10.

Have something that you believe I need to have a look at? Hit me up: echenze [at] androidkenya.com