One of the cheapest and most innovative streaming sticks you can buy on the market, Google’s Chromecast launched in 2013 to critical praise and financial success, with a newer second-generation version launching in September of 2015. Both were sold for the low price of $35, a bargain compared to competing products from both Roku and Apple, and kicked off a battle among Google and Amazon for streaming stick support. Whereas most set-top boxes use remotes and custom user interfaces to decide what to play, Google’s own Chromecast system simply takes whatever content you have on your phone and beams it to your TV, using your phone to control all playback and other options and making your TV do what it does best: being a huge monitor for content.
Chromecast doesn’t just beam content like YouTube videos or movies from Netflix, though; it can also mirror your phone or tablet’s display wirelessly, allowing you to give presentations or play your apps and games on a bigger screen than what would normally be possible. All you need is your Chromecast and your Android device to get started, so let’s take a look at how to set up mirroring on your phone or tablet.
Download the Google Home App
In late 2016, Google updated their previous ChromeCast app—then titled Google Cast—to be renamed “Google Home,” and added support for Google’s new Home smart speaker. If you previously had the Google Cast app on your device, you’ll find that the app was updated to now read “Google Home;” if you’re new to the Cast suite of products, you’ll want to head over to the Play Store and download it for yourself. It’s a free application, and available for any Android device running Android 4.0.3 or higher to use.
Once you’ve downloaded the Home app, it will proceed to search for your Chromecast or any applicable device nearby. Make sure your Chromecast is plugged into your television and on the same WiFi network as your phone, and you can proceed with your setup. If you don’t yet have your Chromecast, you can skip setup and proceed to the app itself.
If you don’t see your Chromecast listed, you may need to go through the setup process again, or you may just need to make sure you’re on the same WiFi connection with your Android and Chromecast devices. After setup is complete, you’ll arrive at the standard Google Home display, where you can view recommendations for your music, podcasts, and video apps. By tapping the upper-right corner of your display, you can view all connected Chromecast devices.
Mirror your Android Screen
Okay, so now that we have the Google Home app downloaded and our Chromecast setup and ready to go, we can mirror our Android device onto a television or monitor. Head into the Google Home app if you haven’t already, tap the triple-lined menu button in the top-right corner, and tap “Cast Screen/Audio” at the top selection of the menu.
You’ll receive the menu option to cast your screen or audio from your phone or tablet to any Cast-enabled devices, including speakers, televisions, or Google Home.
When the “Cast to” prompt opens, find the name of your personal Chromecast device, and select the option to mirror your Android phone or tablet’s screen. It’s important to remember that, when you’re mirroring your screen instead of casting, your device will be using additional battery power and will drain far quicker. Casting allows you to simply tell the Chromecast what to pull down from the cloud; mirroring is actively using your device to display information from one screen to another. If you’re concerned about your battery life, plug your phone or tablet into a wall outlet using the AC adapter your device shipped with.
Now, both the Google Home app and Chromecast-compatible apps like YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu, will be able to cast from your device to your Chromecast. This way is far more efficient and user-friendly than mirroring your device every time you want to watch something on your television; you’ll experience a better frame rate and higher quality. Casting sends whatever function you’re performing on your phone—whether you’re using video or audio—and tells your device what to do with that content using your local wireless network. A full list of Cast-compatible apps is available by navigating your Google Home app to “Discover” and selecting “Browse all” from the list of included apps.
Once you’ve decided to cease mirroring your device to your Chromecast, simply tap the notification from the drop-down notification tray to end mirroring.
Mirroring isn’t perfect on a Chromecast, but it is a really neat trick to display games or websites on your television without dealing with HDMI cables and adapters. It can also be a way around some streaming restrictions placed on certain apps, including Amazon’s own Prime Video app. It’s a great way to share content from your device with those around you, though remember that everything on your device will show up on your television, including text message alerts and photos. Just keep that in mind the next time you want to show off your vacation photos to your grandparents.