Google brings the full YouTube app experience to your older Chromecast

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Complete with a handy virtual remote

Google finally turned the Chromecast into a fully-fledged streaming box last year, complete with an all-new interface and a dedicated remote for navigating through menus and apps. Of course, millions of old-school Chromecasts are still plugged into the backs of TVs. With a new update, Google is making YouTube work more like an actual application — a major change for how these receivers usually work.

The company announced the change on Twitter today, highlighting an improved method for browsing through subscriptions or recommended videos. Rather than displaying a generic splash screen, the classic TV-friendly UI for YouTube is now shown. Since these Chromecast devices lack a physical remote, the YouTube app automatically switches to a virtual D-pad so that you can navigate around videos and playlists. It also supports TV remotes through HDMI-CEC.

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It’s a big improvement over the classic method of selecting and casting content. Although it’s only limited to one app right now, you have to wonder if Google is considering letting other streaming services like Netflix or Hulu add in their own UIs as well. While the latest unit with Google TV has proven to be a hit, there are plenty of third-gen Chromecasts and Chromecast Ultra gadgets still being used by consumers regularly — especially as the company has kept giving out 4K dongles with Stadia kits.

If you’re using a Chromecast, start casting from YouTube to check if you have access to this upgrade. Who knows — you might be able to put off upgrading to the Google TV version for a little while longer.

UPDATE: 2021/12/03 17:50 EST BY WILL SATTELBERG

Older Chromecast support

Although early reports suggested YouTube’s dedicated UI was limited to newer Chromecast models, some of our commenters have noted it’s working on both first and second-gen models as well. Your mileage may vary, but it sounds like anyone can take advantage of these new features. We’ve updated our coverage.


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