Did you know that the YouTube app on your older Chromecast has a hidden remote that lets you pull up an entire YouTube app that you can scroll with?
All you have to do is stream something to your TV in the YouTube app using the Cast button above. Then press the Cast button a second time to access a menu where you’ll find a button labeled Remote. Then you get a full D-pad to move around, a voice search button, and that all-important back button you need to get out of this video and access a full YouTube interface.
Originally, the Google Chromecast HDMI dongle required you to largely control it from your phone and “cast” every single video you wanted to watch onto your TV screen instead of browsing – until that Chromecast 2020 with Google TV added its own physical remote control.
But apparently that has changed. Chrome without packaging reported in February that the YouTube app on Chromecast added a hidden remote browsing experience and websites to like 9to5Google and Android police are now reporting that it will largely be rolled out to older dongles such as the third generation Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra. That’s a nice bonus if you recently nabbed the Ultra for $ 22.22 in the Stadia sale.
I can’t confirm when it was introduced, but I can see that Instructions on how to use the remote control have been officially added to Google’s support page, something that the wayback machine tells me wasn’t there yet, let’s say, 5th October, and the company tweeted about the feature yesterday.
The phone remote is a bit delayed compared to using a dedicated remote or even using an iPhone to control an Apple TV, but it works fine on my Chromecast Ultra so far. I would probably use it many times if I valued YouTube’s recommendations more. (I don’t understand why it keeps recommending videos that I’ve seen before and many years ago.) I wish it was available on Netflix which I scroll a lot, but I didn’t see the option there.