Did you follow along last week’s Android customization post to figure out the details of screen pinning in Android Lollipop? I know, you likely already knew what it was all about. This week we’re diving into YouTube – specifically, using your Android phone to remotely control YouTube. This includes the Chromecast, sure, but also an old, little known and often forgotten feature of the streaming service, YouTube TV.
YouTube is predominantly known as a video streaming service on the web with access through any web browser or through mobile apps on our favorite Android devices. Smart TVs came along and brought the experience to the living room, but Google’s Chromecast really paved the way for using the video service on your television by using your Android phone as a controller.
Before we begin
First and foremost, there is nothing new here today, folks. The YouTube TV features we are about to look at are older than the Chromecast, and the Chromecast isn’t exactly new either. But these are still great features worth taking a quick look at. Enjoy.
To follow along everything today, you will need a fairly modern Android device, I think Android 4.0 and up is supported, and it will need to have the YouTube app installed. Don’t worry, it’s totally free in the Google Play Store. You will also need a Google Chromecast and a connected TV.
If you do not wish to deal with the Chromecast portion of today, you will still require an additional computer or mobile device that is capable of connecting to your television, or a smart TV with a web browser.
Remotely control YouTube using Chromecast
I will keep this one short, the Chromecast has been around for a while and there are plenty of great tutorials floating around for it. Not to mention that the procedure has great explanations along the way.
Fire up your TV with connected Chromecast, make sure everything is setup for your network. You may need to use the Chromecast app on your Android device to get configured.
Now, fire up the YouTube app on your Android device.
With the Chromecast configured, you will see a Cast button in the YouTube interface, simply tap that and your next video will play through the TV.
You can now navigate videos on your Android device, then either play them instantly or build up a playlist for viewing on the TV. Others may connect with their own Android devices as well, adding to the queue or hijacking the screen for their own casting purposes.
Remotely control YouTube with your Android phone
Did you know, before the Chromecast was announced, YouTube had its own feature for handling both the home theater experience and the multiple connected devices functionality? That’s right, it was very easy to use, looked great and is live and well today.
To get started, head into your favorite browser on a computer or mobile device connected to your TV.
Navigate to youtube.com/tv and hit F11 to go full screen.
Look at that, a nice and clean home theater software experience. YoutTube TV is still a streaming service for their online video, there is no way to play local files that I am aware of, but one must admit that the interface is a lot more friendly than the default YouTube experience.
You may stick with using your computer or connected mobile device to navigate the interface, but this is really made to be controlled by your Android phone, just like the Chromecast.
Head into Settings on the computer, and click into Pair Device.
Open the YouTube app on your Android phone.
Head into Settings.
Select Connected TVs.
Click Add a TV.
Enter the code that appears on your TV and click Add to continue.
If you are familiar with the way YouTube operates on your Android device when you are connected to a Chromecast, things will look and act nearly identical now.
Navigate your subscriptions or search for a new video to enjoy, tap on it and you will be asked if you wish to play videos immediately or add videos to the queue.
You can also control the volume of the YouTube player on your TV by simply using your device’s volume buttons.
As with the Chromecast, you may connect multiple Android devices, so that multiple users can play videos and add to the queue. So do keep your device connection code private, this functionality does not rely on proximity, like the Chromecast, nearly anyone with an internet connection can play videos on your device if they’ve got your code.
As I hope you imagine, if the only streaming you wish to do is through YouTube, this functionality is a great alternative to purchasing a streaming stick like the Chromecast. Do remember that the capabilities of your device connected to the TV will determine the quality of your experience (i.e. your playback resolution,) so make sure your connected device is capable of playing YouTube 1080p or higher video to get the most out of your HD TV.
I hope this little YouTube feature finds a practical use in your online world, it is certainly a fun Android customization that I put to use frequently. Next week, we will be dive back into some Google settings, taking a quick look at how to use Google Maps offline.
Do you use YouTube TV, or do you prefer a dedicated streaming device like the Chromecast?