Tip: How to Cast Anything from Android

Posted on October 5, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Music + Videos with 21 Comments

Tip: How to Cast Anything from Android

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.

Chromecast Audio

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.

Audible: No cast for you

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.)


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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Tip: How to Cast Anything from Android”

  1. Nicholas Kathrein

    Got to say the who ecosystem Google built with Google Home , Chromecast, and Chromecast Audo are killer if you take advantage of them. We have music going all day when at home.

  2. cornholio

    So...regarding the link for the Edifier speakers on Amazon...

    $99, or for an extra additional cost of $217, one can get "expert setup". LOL, gotta love it.

  3. dougd_in_nc

    This isn't working for me.

    The Home app doesn't find my TV. Neither does the Cast button.

    However, if I cast using the Youtube Music app it finds my TV just fine.

  4. polymath

    You have all ways been able to "..cast.." the whole screen from android - its in the HOME app, just switch on the option the press the home button, and every thing on the screen will be cast.

    Return to the HOME app and turn off the option and it stops.

    This is better than the cast button in the pull down menu (my opinion) as not all phones/tablets support this.

  5. polymath

    for those with chrome browser's or Chromebooks, this cast trick also works, quite well.

    it some times gets confused... just close the tab and try again,,,, oh and be patient

    its "..annoying.." that amazon 1) don't sell chromecast kit 2) don't want to support it on audio books and prime tv/movies, yet they put those apps on android devices,, maybe Paul's work around will help there....

    Paul,,, you might include chrome browser when talking about chromecast since i think its built into chrome these days, no more extensions.

  6. JerryH

    Paul - there is a very real distinction that I am sure you understand but others reading this article might not:

    When you cast natively from an application that supports cast, the phone is not involved in the network transfers that go on. The cast device (Chromecast, audio Chromecast, cast enabled speakers, Google Home devices, etc.) go fetch the data directly. The phone can be powered off or leave the house and the cast continues.

    When you use the method you show above the phone is doing the downloading and then sending the content to the Chromecast or other cast enabled device. This uses a lot of battery and often makes the phone "hot". You want to be plugged in when doing this. It is a great workaround for the likes of Amazon video - which still hates Cast. But it does come with that caveat that your phone is actually doing all the work whereas the phone is only the controller and not doing any of the work when you cast with a native app.

  7. franklyray

    (If you don’t see a Cast icon, you can add it.) - Can't find how to add CAST to the drop down menu on my Note 8. Have looked at other posts but can't get it. Please explain. thanks.

  8. skane2600

    Too bad there's no tip for casting anything from a Windows Phone.

  9. emanon2121

    I wish they used standard casting tech. Pixel can't cast to a roku.

    • Alexander Rothacker

      In reply to emanon2121:

      I don't have a Pixel, but all my past and current Android devices have been able to cast to the Rokus in my house. Nexus 5, Motorola Atrix 2 and currently an LG G6.

      And so have my Windows phones, just a lot less reliable ;(

      • emanon2121

        In reply to earlster:

        Yes they can. Pixels can not. You have to use Chromecast to to cast. I had to buy a chromecast to mirror. My screen.

        • Alexander Rothacker

          In reply to emanon2121:

          Thanks for clarifying that. I'm a bit surprised that google is going that way, but then I'm not in the market for a new phone right now anyway. That would be a serious knock in my book. I have a Roku on every TV in the house and have no interest to buy Chromecasts.

  10. Dennis Rogers

    If I don't see.the cast button in my drop-down menu, how do I enable it? I'm using a Samsung S6 Active.

  11. isi

    Here's a puzzler for you: how can you coax smartphone audio to Google Cast when running a FM smart-phone-chipped radio?

    I have a Nokia smartphone I bought second hand just for its ability to pick up terrestrial FM radio signals. Let's be clear, over-the-air you breathe and not an internet stream.

    (Before people launch in and tell me to stream instead: I was sick of switching apps depending on the station I wanted to stream, some small/community FM stations don't even hop onto the internet, and streams tend to block out sporting events. Anyway.)

    My Nokia receives radio on its chip via the "FM Radio" app. While it requires a 3.5 headphone jack to run as antennae, the FM Radio app has the ability to route the sound to the phone's external speakers and it will sling sound to bluetooth headphones.

    However, it will not send the audio to Chromecast enabled speakers--it only says "Casting screen," while audio plays to the phone's speakers. Is there a setting to get Google/Chrome Cast to grab that audio? Or, an actual tuner app that has Chromecast integrated? My hopes on that are slim, as 99% of apps in the marketplace use the word "tuner" when they intend "streaming," and a lot of phones don't have an enabled FM chip. The other option would be a physical device that transmits audio to Chromecast, which I have never found other than an Software Defined Radio device, which would seem to require a server set-up of some sort.

    It seems strange Cast can't/won't grab the music that's already coming through the phone speakers...