Google has quietly rolled out a Chromecast update that allows the $35 dongle to take commands from your TV remote using HDMI-CEC technology. Users can now play, pause, skip, and more without pulling out their smartphone.
Chromecast has always had HDMI-CEC technology built-in; it’s what allows the device to switch on your TV when you begin beaming video from your smartphone. But until now, that’s all it has been used for — and it can do so much more.
HDMI-CEC, or HDMI Consumer Electronics Control, enables devices like the Chromecast to communicate with your TV through its HDMI port. So when you send IR commands to your TV, they can be routed through HDMI to control the device you’re currently using.
Instead of having to pull out for your phone when you want to play, pause, stop, or fast forward a video, then, you can do it with the TV remote that’s already on the arm of the couch right next to you. So long as you have a compatible TV, of course.
Most modern TVs support HDMI-CEC technology, but for some reason, a lot ship with it disabled by default. If your remote doesn’t communicate with Chromecast automatically, then, you may have to play around with your TV’s settings.
Before you do that, be sure you’re running the latest firmware (version 27946) on your Chromecast. Also bear in mind that the feature currently seems to be a little buggy; while HBO Go, WatchESPN, Allcast, BBC iPlayer, Google Play Music and more seem to work just fine with, Hulu currently ignores commands from a TV remote altogether.