By now, many of us are familiar with Google TV, the interface layer that Google introduced with last year's Chromecast and later spread to other Android TV units. The homescreen is focused on recommending shows and movies for you, relegating some of your apps along with app search and discovery to a secondary tab. A major side effect is the lack of proper access to the full Play Store, even though the app is still there. Here are some tricks you can use to open it.
Google's media streaming offerings got a rather important bump in the form of the Chromecast with Google TV last year. Unlike its predecessors, the dongle is based on Android TV and has plenty of things going for it, including its remote and $50 price tag. Unfortunately, it's not all been smooth sailing. A lot of users have recently reported a bug that's randomly asking them to reset the device as "data may be corrupted."
Installing apps on Android TV in general, and the Chromecast with Google TV in particular, is usually a simple affair. There are, however, limitations to what you can install directly from the Play Store, as only approved software makes it onto the platform. If you want to color outside the lines and load apps that aren't officially supported, or if you want to force-update an app, you need to use APK files. Sending them to the Chromecast and installing them isn't straightforward, so we'll take you through the process step by step.
Unlike previous Chromecasts, the (relatively) new Chromecast with Google TV ships with a tiny adorable remote control that lets you launch apps, control playback, and navigate the interface without needing your phone. One caveat of that remote, though, is that it offers some preset buttons that launch YouTube and Netflix. What if you don't watch Netflix at all and prefer Plex and Disney+? Or what about launching your favorite music service? There's a simple way to remap some of those buttons to do what you want, and as a bonus, the same method can be used to take screenshots on your Chromecast.
The Chromecast with Google TV is a brilliant product, as noted in Ryan's review, but it's not without its flaws. Since getting one a week ago, I've found Google's new Android TV skin to be a delight, so much so that my far more powerful Nvidia Shield has been relegated to the bench. The experience isn't perfect, however, and I've had to close misbehaving apps on several occasions. The most notable issue I've faced relates to Bluetooth audio, but thankfully there's an easy fix.
The Chromecast with Google TV isn't like your old Chromecast — it's the first to come with proper Android TV and a remote that even works with your TV or soundbar. However, that's where some problems are introduced. Depending on how you've set up the Chromecast remote, you might notice that it's become impossible to control the volume via Google Assistant or your handset when you cast from your phone. Here's what you need to know if you want to enable that functionality.