Google seems to be widely rolling out a new YouTube app-like experience for Chromecast. The update is mostly available for Chromecast Ultra and Chromecast (3rd generation) that was released in 2018. 9to5Google that first reported on the update says that the experience has not been made available to older Chromecast models for the first time. Reportedly, Google started rolling out these features for the Chromecast YouTube app earlier this year to a smaller userbase. The newer interface appears to be more user-friendly than the previous versions, but non-Premium users have reported that they are encountering more ads with this update.
Previously, Chromecast offered a very basic viewing experience to its users when they would cast a video on their TVs. It featured a basic video player and a “Ready to Watch” splash screen. Users are now reporting via 9to5Google the appearance of a more comprehensive video player with the option to change resolution, closed caption settings, and add videos to a playlist/queue. The user interface has also undergone an overhaul with the splash screen now being replaced by the YouTube home screen. The YouTube app on Chromecast now features a navigation rail on the left side with Search, Home, News, Music, Gaming, Movies & Shows, Subscriptions, and Library options. The main section of the layout now consists of video rows similar to what has been featured on the native YouTube app on Android TV or other smart televisions.
Earlier this year, in July, Google had released the new features to more users. The rollout came with a new remote control layout for Chromecast. It featured a D-pad with a back button.
Additionally, the remote also had a voice search button below the D-pad. This remote can now be opened by tapping the Cast icon on the YouTube app. The remote’s icon then appears below the regular volume slider. Reportedly, some physical TV remotes are also compatible with the new YouTube interface on Chromecast.