Over the past week or so, I’ve had one particular conversation way more than I expected. And it always starts the same way.
A friend, family member, or coworkers shows me their phone with an inquisitive look on their face and asks, “Have you seen this?”
What they are referring to is that image up above. A new notification that appears as a courtesy of Google Play Services whenever a casting session is happening on the network you are on.
Let’s Sort Out The Details
It doesn’t matter who initiates the cast or what device it is to. This notification will show up on anyone’s Android device on the network. YouTube on the Chromecast or Play Music on the Chromecast Audio: each session will show up individually and give users some quick controls.
While it can be easily dismissed with a swipe, the ‘X’ on the right will actually stop the casting session completely, causing a bit of confused frustration with people as this strange notification has begun showing up. Additionally, clicking the gear on the left (when it shows up, anyway) allows you to remove this feature completely if you’d rather not see it.
Additionally, you can mute (Chromecast Audio), play, pause, skip forward or back as well.
Once understood, the feature is useful. If playback has been initiated by a person who has left the room, for instance, it can be paused by anyone watching if the need arises.
Audio playback is a bit notorious for this around our office. Casting sessions are started and left going during lunch, so the ability for anyone to stop the playback is a nice addition.
A Little Heads-Up Would Help
What is lacking is the explanation from Google. As I said above, I’ve had this conversation many times over the past week. And this conversation has been with tech-minded, intelligent people who were left a little confused at this new feature.
With a bit of education, I think this can be a very useful feature. However, when it first shows up on a phone, it would be nice if it was accompanied by a bit of an intro to initiate those who haven’t figured out what is going on.
Potential pitfalls exist here as well. If using a casting device for a meeting, for instance, anyone on the local network could accidentally close the session or pause playback. Granted, other-user-hijacking has always been an issue here, so best practice would be to have a closed network for private or business meetings.
How about you? Have you seen this and do you find it useful or annoying? As always, we’d love to discuss.