Chromecast has always been one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get streaming services onto your TV, but a major drawback has been having to control everything with your smartphone or laptop. Not any more, it seems: Google has apparently released a firmware update that lets Chromecast users control what's on using their TV remote.
Only the play and pause buttons work
There are a couple of caveats though: only the play and pause buttons are supported, and the feature won't work with older TVs. Google is apparently using a HDMI protocol known as HDMI-CEC to route signals from TV remotes to Chromecasts. This is a standard built into TVs that acts as a switching box for signals sent to and from HDMI devices. This means that the Chromecast can interpret the infrared signals from a remote even though it doesn't have an infrared receiver itself. Google has already been using HDMI-CEC for things like switching on TVs when the Chromecast is started, and now, it seems, the company is adding support for remote controls too.
Users over at the r/Chromecast subreddit are reporting that the feature has been up for a few days now, with apps including YouTube, Netflix, ESPN, Play Music, HBO Go, BBC iPlayer, and TuneIn Radio all working. We've reached out to Google for a confirmation ourselves, but if you've got a Chromecast and a relatively new TV then it's worth giving it a try. Be warned, you might have to enable HDMI-CEC on your TV yourself for it to work. There's a good guide on how to do this here.