Premium members know that I’m embracing Google Cast—via Google Home, Chromecast, and other devices, in my new home. But here’s a neat secret: You can cast anything from Android, so even apps that don’t natively support this technology can still be cast to a screen or speakers.
I’m going to be writing a broader explanation of my use of Google Cast technologies soon as part of my Paul’s Tech Makeover series for Premium members. But the short explanation for this technology is that Google created Google Cast as a way to stream content between mobile devices (and, on the PC, the Chrome web browser) and compatible displays and speakers. This can be built-in, or it can be added with an external Chromecast device; these come in both video (Full HD and 4K) and audio versions.
Google Cast/Chromecast is awesome for a number of reasons but, again, in the interests of time, I’ll point out just two: It supports multi-room audio for full-house sound if you want that. And It is super-inexpensive.
For example, a pair of low-end Sonos One speakers will set you back $400, and those speakers don’t even have line-in or Apple AirPlay support, minimizing compatibility. They also only support some services, so you can do something like play an Audible audiobook over Sonos. Unacceptable.
By comparison, a $35 Chromecast Audio paired to a cheap pair of power speakers or studio monitors—like this $99 pair of Edifier R1280T powered bookshelf speakers that I own—offer better sound quality and much better compatibility (the speakers have multiple line-ins), and they do so at less than one-third the cost. This is the Google model, folks. It works.
Anyway, if there is one downside to Google Cast/Chromecast, it’s that not all mobile apps natively support this technology. And this is especially true on iOS, if you’ve chosen the iPhone route. (As you may know, I recently switched from iPhone to Android, and while this issue wasn’t at the forefront of my decision, it played a small role.)
For example, if you open Spotify (on Android or iPhone), you will see a Devices Available link at the bottom of Now Player that links to Chromecast- and Google Cast-compatible (and other) speakers.
Other apps, like Pocket Cast, provide a more familiar Chromecast icon.
Either way, these options let you stream, or cast, the content to which you’re listening to a set of speakers (or a group of speakers, or a home full of speakers). If you’re watching video content, you can likewise cast that content to your HDTV/4K UHD TV using a Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra.
As noted, however, some apps do not natively support Chromecast/Google Cast. The one that bugs me the most is Audible, as I listen to audiobooks regularly. There’s no Chromecast icon in the Audible Now Playing screen.
But that doesn’t matter. On Android, you can access a Cast icon in the Notification shade that will cast whatever audio or video content you’re enjoying to whatever speakers/speaker groups or displays you’ve configured.
So if you want to listen to Audible on some Chromecast-enabled speakers, as I often do, you simply enable Cast, and choose the speaker(s).
(If you don’t see a Cast icon, you can add it.)
As you can see, I have a number of choices—that’s what “embracing” Google Cast means—that include Google Home appliances (Kitchen Home and Sun Room Home), Chromecast-connected speaker pairs (Sun Room, Pauls Office), Google Cast-integrated speakers (Soundbar), and whole-house audio (Thurrott All) consisting of multiple speaker sets.
Then, open Audible, and begin playing. The audiobook will play on the selected speaker(s), not your phone’s internal speakers. Voila. You can see that you’re casting via an icon in the status bar, and if you pull down the Notification shade, you’ll see the speaker(s) you’re connected to named by the Cast icon.
On iOS, you’re a bit stuck: This OS supports casting to AirPlay-compatible speakers (and, via Apple TV, displays) only. And those solutions are very expensive. So if you want to use Chromecast with iOS, you need to use a Chromecast-compatible app. Audible, sadly, is not one of them.
(It would be nice if you could trigger screen/audio casting from the Google Home app and then select which app to use for playback. But Apple would never allow that.)