Hidden talent: Using Android Wear to control a Chromecast

Even though I’ve been using the Sony Smartwatch 3 for nearly a week, I’m still learning about little features that aren’t readily advertised by Google or its Android Wear partners. The latest one is using the watch to control my Chromecast, which is actually easier and quicker on the wrist than it is on a phone.

To set the stage: I used to use a [company]Microsoft[/company] Xbox One to stream Pandora and other music services in my home office. About two weeks ago, I realized it would be more power-efficient — and I’m all about saving that precious electricity since we create most of our own — to use a Chromecast for the same thing.

A few days ago, while streaming [company]Google[/company] Play Music from my Moto X to my Chromecast, I noticed the currently playing track appearing on my smartwatch. I initially thought it was just a notification that wasn’t actionable. Boy was I wrong.

Instead, the watch acts like a basic remote control for the Chromecast, even though it’s technically routing the commands through my phone. I can play or pause the track, skip between tracks or even give a song the Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down treatment. Best of all, the basic play/pause functionality is just a single swipe away at any time: Swiping up on Android Wear in this case surfaces the currently playing track card.

The functionality even extends to video playback. Last night, for example, my family and I watched the first episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from season two through Google Play. (Note: Being the geek I am, I watch this show religiously; my family is just waking up getting caught up.). Sure enough, once I started the stream from my phone to the Chromecast, the same currently playing card appeared on my Smartwatch 3 with similar controls.

Agents of Shield control Android Wear

Phil Coulson frozen in limbo

Overall, it’s much easier and quicker to use the watch for Chromecast control. There’s no need to get your phone in hand, unlock it and navigate to the app or playback controls. Instead, one quick swipe on the watch is all it takes to get started. And it just works: Commands from the watch are routed to the media app on the phone over Bluetooth, which are then forwarded to your Chromecast.

Obviously I was sold on an Android Wear watch before this, or I wouldn’t have bought one. This is like icing on the cake because I’m using this feature multiple times a day on a regular basis.