Google casting can be a great way to get content from your phone onto a larger screen, but all the messing around with menus means it can be a little bit fiddly. It turns out Google may have a better way to do it, and it looks like the Pixel Tablet may be the first device to offer it.
This feature first popped up online a few weeks back, when Mishal Rahman discovered a setting that lets you initiate a casting session by holding your phone close to your Pixel Tablet. The specifics of how this works weren’t really clear, but now Rahman has returned with a more detailed look at how the process works.
Follow-up: Here's a look at the settings page for this feature, which is apparently called "hold close to cast." "Hold close to cast" will let you "reach your phone toward a Pixel Tablet to cast media.""Your devices must be on the same private Wi-Fi network to cast. Not all… https://t.co/tluDmCnAuD pic.twitter.com/XxvxLwovCpAugust 24, 2023
The feature itself is referred to as “Hold close to cast”, and the specifics should eventually be found in the Devices & sharing section of the Settings menu. The feature involves holding your phone close to the Pixel Tablet to initiate the cast, provided they’re both on the same private Wi-Fi network.
'Private' being the crucial thing there, and it means this feature may not work if you’re using a public Wi-Fi network — such as ones you may find in a hotel or office. The menu also notes that this isn’t going to work with all media apps, presumably because this is a feature that may require developers to opt in and update their apps accordingly.
It’ll be interesting to see if this technology makes it to other devices in the near future, if only to make the process of casting a lot easier. Whether we’re talking about smart home hubs, tablets, TV screens or even Chromecast with Google TV, the idea of using proximity instead of menus to make the connection is very appealing.
The question is, how long it might take for this to roll out? Android Police speculates that the proximity-based part of this system is powered by the Pixel Tablet’s UWB chip. We’re starting to see flagship phones slowly gain UWB support, but asking for that from other devices, especially TV screens that people tend not to upgrade very often, is going to take some time.
But we can still hope, especially if the Pixel Tablet proves that it’s a valid alternative to the current menu-based casting process. But we’ll have to wait for that to roll out to users first to see whether the feature works as intended.
Frankly, I can’t wait for the day when getting content from my phone or tablet onto a bigger screen is pretty-much seamless.