You’ve probably encountered this problem before: You want to give someone access to one of your streaming devices, but they have to be on your home or apartment’s Wi-Fi. You’re a little more apprehensive about giving them the key to your network or, worse, you’re super security-focused and your key is 30+ characters long.
Solution? Nothing. At least, not until now. If you have a GoogleChromecast, then a new update adds a new mode.
With guest mode, you don’t have to be on the same Wi-Fi network as a Chromecast device in order to gain access to it. You don’t have to be on a Wi-Fi network at all, in fact. As long as you’re running the latest version of Chromecast on your mobile device, and that update has rolled out to your friend’s Chromecast streaming stick, anyone with access to the Chromecast can flip on its guest mode feature.
“Your Chromecast then generates a random 4-digit PIN that is required to cast to it using guest mode. When a device nearby tries to connect, the Chromecast automatically transfers that PIN using short, inaudible audio tones. If the audio tone pairing fails, your guest will be given the option to connect manually by entering the 4-digit PIN found on your Chromecast backdrop and in the Chromecast app,” Google writes.
The Chromecast’s audio pairing bit uses ultrasonic tones to connect the streaming stick to guests’ devices. Not only are these tones inaudible to humans, but they also don’t really go farther than the room in which your Chromecast is located. So, no, your neighbor won’t be able to stream anything to your device unless he or she knows your Wi-Fi password. Google is pretty clear that the pairing process only works when the Chromecast is in the same room as the devices you’re trying to pair to it via guest mode.
Other Chromecast tweaks arriving as part of the update include some design changes, a new app icon, and screencasting for all devices running at least Android version 4.4.2 (KitKat). That last bit is a beta feature, though screencasting has been available for some devices prior to this update. This is a larger pool of supported devices and, as a beta, the entire feature might not work as well as you’d expect when you go to give it a whirl.