Back at Google I/O 2014, we learned about a pretty neat feature called Backdrop that gives your Chromecast a little more pizazz with localized weather, news, and photos. It turned out to be a bit of a tease, because Google waited until earlier today to actually enable it through an update to the Chromecast app for our phones. During the same presentation, another feature called "Guest Mode" was announced promising to allow visitors to cast from their devices to a Chromecast in the same room without being on the same Wi-Fi network. Like Backdrop, Guest Mode was slated to be pushed out later this year, but it hasn't been mentioned since. After poking around in the new apk, there's good reason to expect it will be showing up pretty soon.
<string name="settings_opencast_label">Guest mode</string>
<string name="settings_opencast_pin">PIN %1$s</string>
<string name="settings_opencast_getting_pin">Getting device PIN…</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_intro_title">Guest mode</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_intro_description">"Let anyone in the same room connect to your Chromecast without being on your Wi-Fi network.
It uses a combination of your Chromecast's location and Wi-Fi to identify nearby devices."</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_learn_more">Learn more</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_turn_it_on">OK, turn it on</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_learn_title">How it works</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_learn_description">"To connect to your guest's device, your Chromecast will automatically transfer the 4 digit PIN using a short audio tone you can't hear.
If the audio pairing fails, your guest will be asked to enter the PIN displayed on your Chromecast's home screen.
You can turn off this feature at any time."</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_warm_welcome_title">Share your TV with guest mode</string>
<string name="settings_cast_nearby_warm_welcome_description">"Allow anyone in the same room to connect to your Chromecast without being on your Wi-Fi network.
To enable this feature, go to device list, select your device and turn on guest mode."</string>
<string name="setting_cast_nearby_warm_welcome_dimiss_button_message">Ok, got it</string>
The text above is pretty clear about how it all works. Guest Mode has to be enabled through the Chromecast app by somebody on the same network, which allows the dongle to broadcast an inaudible tone that nearby devices can detect. If the visiting device can't pick up on the sound for any reason, a PIN on the home screen of the Chromecast can also be used to initiate a pairing. Once a connection is established, the new device can start casting just like any other.
So far, the toggle for Guest Mode doesn't appear for me on any of my devices, and Guest Mode doesn't seem to be enabled by default. It looks like all of the necessary strings and layouts are present, but a couple of elements haven't been hooked up yet, which suggests that things aren't 100% complete in this version. Though, it's also possible that everything is ready, but we have to wait for a new firmware version to hit Chromecast. Whatever the case, it shouldn't be much longer before we no longer have to spell out complicated Wi-Fi passwords to our friends when they drop by.
If you'd like to see the demo from Google I/O again, I've queued it up below.