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Pixel Tablet's 'Cast to devices nearby' feature nearly here (APK teardown)

We first heard about this in August and saw a demo at CES, but now it seems to be imminent.
By

Published onMarch 21, 2024

Cast connect from Pixel to Pixel Tablet
Damien Wilde / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • The latest version of Google Play Services appears to enable the Pixel Tablet’s “Cast to devices nearby” feature.
  • This was rumored in August and demoed at CES 2024, but Google still hasn’t given a specific launch date.
  • The feature allows you to “throw” media from your phone to the tablet (or vice versa) just by being in proximity.

In August 2023, frequent Android Authority contributor Mishaal Rahman showed a new feature for the Pixel Tablet. Although it was bare bones at the time, it appeared to allow users to “throw” media from their phone to the Pixel Tablet just by putting the two devices near one another. At CES 2024, Google demoed this and gave it a name: “Cast to devices nearby.” However, the company hasn’t said when we’ll actually get to use it, but the latest Google Play Services release suggests it will be very, very soon.

An APK teardown helps predict features that may arrive on a service in the future based on work-in-progress code. However, it is possible that such predicted features may not make it to a public release.

In the latest Google Play Services 24.10.16 beta, we’ve spotted strings that directly reference the “Cast to devices nearby” feature:

<string name="ftue_opt_in_half_sheet_description">You can now cast media to any Pixel Tablet on this Wi-Fi network just by holding your phone in front of
it.</string>

<string name="ftue_opt_in_half_sheet_title">A new way to cast to tablets</string>

As the strings suggest, you will need to have your phone and tablet on the same Wi-Fi for this to work. Also, although the string doesn’t say so, Google confirmed at CES that this will require a Pixel phone. Google also confirmed that it will work with Spotify and YouTube Music, but declined to say if other services would be supported at launch or if any other services would see after-launch support.

There are several things that are unclear:

  • Which Pixel phones will be supported
  • The protocol used for the hand-off (NFC, Bluetooth, UWB, etc.)
  • When the rollout will actually begin

Google only used the usual “later this year” timeline when it announced this feature, so who knows when it will actually land. However, since it is appearing in Google Play Services, it’s only a matter of weeks until we’ll probably see it roll out. It’s possible this could land with the next Pixel Feature Drop, which we expect in either June or July. It’s also possible this could land even earlier than that, but we’ll need to wait and see.

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