Friday, February 23, 2018

How to Set Up and Use Your Chromecast Ultra

By  Megan Ellis  

Streaming devices are becoming increasingly popular as more users tune out of traditional TV networks and opt to watch content directly from apps and the web.
While in the beginning some argued that you wouldn’t achieve the same quality with a streaming device as you would with a set-top box, products like the Chromecast Ultra (which streams in 4K) prove that this is no longer the case.
The convenience of streaming video and music from your phone, along with the ease of installation, makes the Chromecast Ultra a great option for those wanting to disconnect from traditional set-top boxes.
Add to this the many other things you can do with the device, including screen mirroring, playing games, and casting photos, and you have a strong case for investing in one.
So if you choose to ditch traditional networks and buy a Chromecast Ultra, how would you go about setting it up? And what are the major things you can do with it?
You can find out all that and more in our detailed Chromecast Ultra setup guide below.
What’s in the Box
The Chromecast Ultra comes with minimal equipment, which is part of Google’s attempts to make their home devices low-profile and simple to use.
In the box you’ll find:
  • Chromecast Ultra
  • Power cable connected to a power adapter with an Ethernet port
  • Cards with setup and warranty information
With minimal hardware, there are certain prerequisites you’ll need so that you can use the device. You’ll need a working Wi-Fi connection, as well as a television with an available HDMI port.
To use the device to its full potential, it’s also recommended that you use it with a 4K TV and 5GHz router.

Chromecast vs. Chromecast Ultra

The Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra are similar in appearance, setup, and functionality. However, the major difference between the two devices is the resolution of the content that they can stream.
The original Chromecast streams content with a maximum resolution of 1080p (Full HD), while the Chromecast Ultra can stream 4K/2160p content (Ultra HD).What's the Difference Between 4K and Ultra HD? What's the Difference Between 4K and Ultra HD?Thinking of buying a new TV or monitor but feeling lost with all of the terminology like 4K and Ultra HD? Here's everything you need to know about it.READ MORE
This is why it’s suggested that you connect your Chromecast Ultra to a 4K television. If you don’t have a UHD TV, you may want to opt for the original Chromecast instead.

Setting Up Your Chromecast Ultra: The Short Version

The Chromecast Ultra is relatively simple to set up, even for novices. The entire process consists of only a few steps, which you can see summarized below:
  1. Plug the power cable into an outlet and connect it to your Chromecast using the micro-USB port.
  2. Connect the Chromecast Ultra to your TV by plugging it into an HDMI port.
  3. Use the Google Home app or your Chrome browser to connect to the device.
  4. Follow the prompts from Google to configure the device.
These are the basic outlines of the steps. However, the full setup guide below goes through each stage in much more detail.

How to Set Up Your Chromecast Ultra: Detailed Steps

With the exception of the configuration process, the Chromecast Ultra’s setup has an almost plug-and-play level of ease.
You’ll need to make sure the device has a power source. To do this, plug the power cable into an appropriate outlet. You should then connect it to your Chromecast Ultra using the micro-USB port.
Once this is done, you can plug the Chromecast directly into an available HDMI port on your television. If the device is correctly plugged in, you will see a small white LED light begin flashing on round edge of the device. A blue screen will appear on your TV, prompting you to complete setup by configuring the device.
You will have two options for configuring the device: using the Chrome browser on your desktop, or using the Google Home app.

Configuring the Chromecast Ultra With Google Home

Using Google Home to configure your Chromecast Ultra is probably the most convenient option if you already have the app. The app comes in handy when it comes to managing your device on a daily basis. This means that even if you don’t have it installed already, it’s recommended that you give it a try.
After the Chromecast Ultra has been switched on, Google Home will let you know that a new device has been discovered. If your app hasn’t automatically detected this, you can simply select Discover, and it will pick up the Chromecast. Select the Chromecast in the app, and it will ask you if you want to set up the device. Select Next, and the setup process will begin.

Establish a Connection With the Chromecast Ultra

A loading screen will appear to notify you that the app is attempting to connect to the Chromecast Ultra. Sometimes you’ll need to wait a minute or so. During this time, your phone or tablet may disconnect from the Wi-Fi network.
If the connection process seems to be taking too long, you can cancel setup and attempt to connect again.
Once Google Home has connected with the Chromecast Ultra, it will prompt you to check that the code provided in the app matches the code seen on the TV. This is so that the user can make sure that they have connected to the correct device.
If the codes on your app and TV screen match, then you can proceed by selecting Yes. Should they not match, select No, and the app will provide you with the available devices again to attempt to connect to the correct one.
If you imported your Chromecast from another country, you’ll receive a warning that it may not be compatible with your router. However, we found that a router with a 2.4GHz frequency worked fine. Google, however, suggests 5GHz for the best results.

Connect Your Chromecast Ultra to Your Wi-Fi Network

Once you have confirmed the connection, the Home app will ask you to select the section of your house that the device is located in and which Wi-Fi connection you would like to use.
This step determines the way the app labels the device (e.g. Living Room TV), as well as the network it’s connected to. You can’t stream from your phone to your Chromecast without both devices being on the same network. Therefore, you should select the network that your smart devices, computers, and mobile devices are all connected to. This ensures that they work together seamlessly.
The app will then either try to retrieve your Wi-Fi password from your phone or you will need to manually enter it. Once this is done, the app will connect to the network.
After this point, the app will notify you that it uses your Google account. It will also provide you with a summary of the setup details, such as the Wi-Fi network and name of the device.
Simply select Continue, and you’ll receive a notification that setup was successful. You can then choose whether to go through the tutorial. This short demonstration shows users how to cast with the device.
This is an optional step, but it can be very useful for those who have never used a Chromecast before. Casting from your device to the Chromecast is very simple. You only need to press the ‘Cast’ button in a compatible app and select the device you want to use.
Download: Google Home for Android | iOS (Free)

Configuring the Chromecast Ultra With Chrome

Configuring your Chromecast with Chrome is very similar to the process in Google Home. In fact, using Chrome is simply a different medium for setting up the device, rather than a different process.
To begin configuring your device, you’ll need to visit from a desktop or laptop—not a mobile device like a phone or tablet. On the site, select the option to set up the device using your computer.
Selecting this option opens up a Chrome extension window: Chrome Media Router.

Establish a Connection With the Chromecast Ultra

Once found, the browser will notify you which device you have connected to and ask you if you would like to set it up. After you select this option, Google will ask you to accept the company’s privacy policy.
If your computer is unable to detect your Chromecast Ultra, this is likely due to you being too far from the device. Moving closer usually resolves this. You will also need to make sure that you are connected to your Wi-Fi network.
setting up a chromecast ultra
Next, a screen will pop up with a four-digit code. You will know whether your PC has connected to the correct Chromecast if the code on your TV screen matches the code on your computer.
If the codes match, you can select Yes to proceed. If they don’t, you will need to select No, and your computer will retry the connection process.

Connect Your Chromecast Ultra to the Wi-Fi Network

Unlike the Google Home app, Chrome will not be able to automatically detect your Wi-Fi password. You will need to manually input the password.
This prompt will appear after you have saved the name of your Chromecast Ultra. Rather than selecting the room that your device is located in (like in the app), you will be asked to name your device. You can keep the default Chromecast model number, rename it according to the section of your house the device is located in (e.g., Living Room TV), or choose whichever name your heart so desires.
When you connect to your Wi-Fi network, make sure it is the same network that you use for the devices you plan to stream from. You cannot stream from your phone to your Chromecast Ultra if they are on different networks. Of course, you can change the network in your settings at a later stage if you wish to switch.
Once connected, the browser will load a screen stating which devices are ready to cast. If you have successfully set up your Chromecast, you’ll see its name displayed in this window.
Unlike with the Google Home app, you won’t receive a tutorial on how to cast from your various devices. However, this is a very simple process. While you are connected to the same network as your Chromecast Ultra, any app that’s compatible will show a Cast button. Pressing this button will allow you to choose the device you wish to cast to.
It looks like a rectangle with a Wi-Fi symbol in the lower left.setting up a chromecast ultra
The Cast button can be found in both computer and mobile apps, however they sometimes function slightly differently. For example, casting YouTube from your browser results in one video playing at a time. However, using the YouTube mobile app allows you to easily queue videos that will automatically play.
Download: Chrome (Free)

Things You Can Do With Your Chromecast Ultra

Now that your Chromecast Ultra is set up, you might be wondering what the device can do. Among its most common features are various forms of media streaming, screen mirroring, and playing games.
There are also a variety of other tricks you can use with your Chromecast Ultra, including displaying news headlines. However, we’ll be focusing on the main features in this guide.Hack Your Chromecast Experience With These Tricks Hack Your Chromecast Experience With These TricksDid you know your Chromecast is capable of much more than simply streaming video? In this article we'll show you eight clever hacks which will make your Chromecast experience even better.READ MORE

4K Video Streaming

The most-used and arguably the best feature of the Chromecast Ultra is 4K video streaming. The device is compatible with a large range of video streaming apps, including Netflix, Google Play Movies, Plex, BBC iPlayer, Twitch, and more.
setting up a chromecast ultra
You can cast video from your mobile devices or from the PCs on your Wi-Fi network. Certain sites come with native casting functionality (like YouTube), so you can stream straight from your browser.
If you want to cast video files stored on a device on your network (rather than streaming from the web), you could use a third-party service like Videostream.
You can also cast any Chrome tab or your entire desktop, which allows you to cast native videos or fullscreen videos from sites that don’t have built-in casting abilities.

Play Music

Google has an entirely separate Chromecast device that you can use for music and audio: the Chromecast Audio. While this standalone device has more extensive audio functionality and features, you can also stream audio using the Chromecast Ultra.How to Set Up and Use Your Google Chromecast Audio How to Set Up and Use Your Google Chromecast AudioIf you just got a Chromecast Audio, this is everything you need to know to get it up and running.READ MORE
Compatible apps include Google Play Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, TuneIn Radio, Vevo, and many other music streaming services. Google also has a number of additional compatible apps listed on their Chromecast Ultra apps page.
Like with video apps, you simply need to press the Cast button to play your media on your Chromecast.

Play Games

An oft-overlooked feature of the Chromecast Ultra is the ability to play games on the device. You will need to download ones with Chromecast compatibility, since not all games work with the device.
Many of these Chromecast games are multiplayer or boardgame titles. Tricky TitansAngry Birds Go!Just Dance Now and Scrabble Blitz are among the surprisingly large number of games you can play on the device.7 Mobile Games That Are Better on Chromecast 7 Mobile Games That Are Better on ChromecastMobile games offer multiplayer, but passing your phone around to play Monopoly is no fun. Try these seven games that really shine when played on your TV with a Chromecast.READ MORE

Integrate With Google Home

Like any of Google’s other smart devices, you can control the Chromecast Ultra using a Google Home speaker and Google Assistant. This is useful if you want a completely hands-free way to control your casting device.
Commands you can use include ones like “OK Google, cast YouTube to the Chromecast,” which will open up the YouTube app and allow you to select a video to play.
Google Assistant commands on mobile devices are slightly more limited, but can be used to pause or stop whatever you’re streaming on the Chromecast. This is especially useful if the play menu for your Chromecast is no longer displaying on your phone—a bug that sometimes occurs if you’ve been playing content for some time without interacting with the app.The 15 Most Popular "OK Google" Questions You Can Ask The 15 Most Popular "OK Google" Questions You Can AskGoogle can answer a wide range of questions, but which are the most common? The most popular OK Google questions might surprise you.READ MORE

Screen Mirroring

The screen mirroring feature of the Chromecast is very reminiscent of Apple’s Airplay feature. Screen mirroring is useful when you want to display something on a bigger screen (such as photos, a browser window, etc).
You can also use this feature to show presentations in an office setting, or you can simply use it as a way to work on a larger display without needing to attach your PC using cables.

Troubleshooting: Common Problems With Chromecast Ultra

There are a variety of things that can interfere with the setup or use of your Chromecast Ultra. In fact, sometimes your Chromecast interferes with your Wi-Fi connection.Your Chromecast May Be Killing Your Wi-Fi Your Chromecast May Be Killing Your Wi-FiIf you have noticed your Wi-Fi struggling recently, you may have cause to blame Google...READ MORE
Here are a few of the common problems you may find when setting up and using your Chromecast Ultra.

Chrome Media Router Extension Won’t Load

While attempting to set up our Chromecast using Chrome, we encountered a problem where the Chrome Media Router extension would just not load. While the browser would open a separate tab for the extension, it would just hang on a loading screen.
In our case, it turns out that the Google Hangouts extension was interfering with the Chromecast extension. We removed our Hangouts extension temporarily to bypass this problem.
If you are struggling to load this window, you may want to see which extension or plugin may be halting the loading process.

Chromecast Not Showing Up When Attempting to Cast

Sometimes, despite having already been set up, your Chromecast won’t appear on the menu of available devices when you attempt to cast. This is usually due to the Chromecast disconnecting from your Wi-Fi network. You could also have disconnected your mobile device from the Wi-Fi network (and you may be on your mobile network or another Wi-Fi network instead).
Check that all your devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and that the network connection is working properly. If your router has lost internet connection, you might need to reboot it or solve the cause of the internet disconnection.

Media Won’t Cast After Playing Content From Elsewhere

The Chromecast Ultra isn’t infallible. You may encounter some hiccups when trying to switch from casting media in one app to casting media from another app (for example, switching from Netflix to YouTube).
You can usually remedy this by going into the Google Home app and manually choosing Stop Casting for your Chromecast. If this doesn’t work, you can also use the device settings to reboot the Chromecast.

What’s Your Favorite Chromecast Ultra Feature?

Now that you know what it takes to set up the Chromecast Ultra, as well as a few of the things the device can do, you may see the appeal of investing in one. However, there are a few more things the device can do.7 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Chromecast 7 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a ChromecastYou have finally taken the plunge and bought yourself a shiny new Chromecast, but what happens next? Here are seven things you didn't know you could do with one of Google's dongles...READ MORE
What is your favorite feature of the Chromecast Ultra? Do you prefer other streaming devices? Let us know in the comments below.

Your Android Is Secretly Always Recording: How to Stop Google From Listening

By  Ben Stegner  

Is your Android phone always listening to you? Does Google keep a log of everything you say? And if so, what can you do about it?
In an age where every device has a microphone and they’re made by companies who love to track what you’re doing, these are valid questions. Let’s take a look at the facts behind Google recordings and how you can stop them.9 Examples of How Smartphones Are Eavesdropping on You 9 Examples of How Smartphones Are Eavesdropping on YouIf you aren't careful, your smartphone may be listening in on your conversation -- even when you aren't on a call. But is it real or is it just paranoia?READ MORE

How Is Google Listening?

Before we continue, we should explain what exactly Google records from your Android device.
If you have a certain setting enabled on your phone, saying OK Google will cause it to listen for a command. Before you say this wake phrase, your phone is listening for the OK Google hotword, but it is not recording everything you say and uploading it to Google. Just like with concerns over the Amazon Echo, constantly recording everything a device hears would result in enormous amounts of useless data.7 Ways Alexa and Amazon Echo Pose a Privacy Risk 7 Ways Alexa and Amazon Echo Pose a Privacy RiskAmazon's Echo devices are neat, but having a network-connected microphone in your bedroom is a potential privacy nightmare. Here's what we need to consider about Alexa's effect on our privacy.READ MORE
Even if you don’t have the OK Google hotword enabled, you can still use voice commands (that Google records too). Tapping the microphone icon on the search bar or holding the Home button to open Google Assistant will both immediately prompt you for a voice command.
What Google does record are the voice commands you say to your phone. If you say OK Google, how old is Jack Black?, Google holds onto the question and a few seconds of prior audio.
stop google listening recording and spying

How Do I Listen to My Google Recordings?

Google provides a portal for you to view all your interactions with its services. This includes voice recordings of your interactions with Google Assistant. To review them:
  1. Head to the Google My Activity page. You’ll see everything from YouTube videos you just watched to apps you’ve opened on your phone.
  2. Apply a filter to only show voice recordings. Click Filter by date & product at the top under the search bar.
  3. Next, uncheck All products under Filter by Google product and check only Voice & Audio.
  4. Click the Search button again.
stop google listening recording and spying
You’ll then see a timeline of all the recordings Google has of your voice starting with the most recent. It bundles close events together — click a bundle to expand it and then hit Play to listen to the recording.How to Find Out If Google Has Been Listening to You How to Find Out If Google Has Been Listening to YouHere's something that might unsettle you: Google can hear everything you do, and most of it may be getting recorded. Here's how to clear and disable all of that.READ MORE

How Do You Turn Off Google Recording?

You can disable Google’s voice recording in two different ways.

Turn Off OK Google on Your Phone

The first is to turn off the OK Google detection on your phone, which you can do by performing the following:
  1. Open Settings on your phone and enter the Google category.
  2. Select Search under Services.
  3. Next, tap Voice.
  4. You’ll see a Voice Match entry; this may also be listed as “OK Google” detection. Tap that.
  5. Disable the Say “Ok Google” any time slider. You may also want to disable While driving to prevent it in Google Maps and Android Auto, though it is convenient in those scenarios.
stop google listening recording and spying
Once you do this, Google Assistant will only respond to OK Google when you have the Google app open (or when on the home screen of a Pixel or Nexus device). Your phone thus will no longer always be listening for the hotword.

Revoke Google’s Access to Your Microphone

To go further, you can deny the Google app permission to access your microphone:What Are Android Permissions and Why Should You Care? What Are Android Permissions and Why Should You Care?Do you ever install Android apps without a second thought? Here's all you need to know on Android app permissions, how they've changed, and how it affects you.READ MORE
  1. Open Settings on your phone and tap Apps & notifications.
  2. Tap See all X apps to get a full list.
  3. Scroll down to Google and select it.
  4. Tap Permissions and disable the Microphone slider.
stop google listening recording and spying

Disable Google Assistant

If you’d like, you can completely disable the Google Assistant instead:
  1. Open Settings on your phone and enter the Google category.
  2. Select Search under Services.
  3. Tap Settings under Google Assistant.
  4. Tap your device name under Devices.
  5. Slide the Google Assistant toggle off.
stop google listening recording and spying

Turn Off Google Voice History

Turning off OK Google or Google Assistant on your phone doesn’t do anything for other Android devices you may own. Plus, Google can still keep voice data if you search by voice in Chrome. To pause voice history for your entire Google account, perform the following steps:
  1. Visit Google’s Activity Controls page and sign into your account if needed.
  2. Scroll down to Voice & Audio Activity.
  3. Disable the slider to prevent Google from linking your voice activity with your account.
stop google listening recording and spying
Doing this will limit voice-related functions on your Google account, which is your objective in the first place! Once you do this, you should also delete the past recordings Google has kept. To do so:
  1. Return to the My Activity Voice & Audio page.
  2. Click Delete activity by on the left side.
  3. Change the Today dropdown box to All time and click Delete.
stop google listening recording and spying

What Does Google Do With This Data?

It’s important to note that aside from Google, only you can access your voice data. That is, of course, unless Google was breached.
Google explains that it uses your voice activity to help you get better results across its products, in ways like:
  • Learning the sound of your voice.
  • Learning how you say words and phrases.
  • Recognizing when you say OK Google.
  • Improving speech recognition across Google products that use your voice.
This is all useful, but a giant corporation keeping records of what you say is nonetheless concerning. An algorithm could easily parse through this information to figure out what you’re interested in based on what you say.

Using Google Without Voice

Unless you turn off Google Assistant, you can still enjoy its benefits even without using your voice.
After you hold the Home button on your phone to open it, tap the keyboard icon in the bottom-left corner. This lets you type out a command for Google Assistant. It will respond just like if you had spoken it.
stop google listening recording and spying
This isn’t as convenient, but that’s the cost of increased privacy. Of course, by using Google Assistant at all, Google is still able to see what you’re interested in and track you. If you’d rather avoid this, try DuckDuckGo, one of the best Android apps for protecting your privacy.9 Ways To Protect Your Privacy on Android 9 Ways To Protect Your Privacy on AndroidAndroid offers various privacy-friendly features, but Google doesn't always make it clear how we should use them. Let us take you through some of the best ways to protect data on your Android.READ MORE
Download: DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser (Free)

Happy to Shut Google Up?

We’ve gone over what Google listens for on your Android phone, how to delete your voice history data, and the methods for stopping this recording. You may suffer a bit of inconvenience by disabling these features, but knowing that Google isn’t keeping a log of what you say is worth it.
For a completely Google-free phone, check out our guide on how to use Android and ditch Google.Here's How You Can Use Android But Ditch Google Here's How You Can Use Android But Ditch GoogleWant to use your Android smartphone or tablet without Google? Want to use open source software? Here we take an in-depth look at exactly how to do that.READ MORE
Did you disable any of the voice recording features? What did you think of having your voice history all in one place? Tell us your thoughts on this behavior down in the comments!

How to Set Up and Use Your Chromecast Ultra

By  Megan Ellis   Streaming devices are becoming increasingly popular as more users tune out of traditional TV networks and opt to watc...