Google has seemingly outdone itself when it comes to discontinuing products and experiences in a short amount of time — as 9to5Google reports, after rolling out a new interface for some older Chromecasts last winter, the company has basically made it useless. In a reply to a customer on Twitter, the company says you’re no longer able to log in to your YouTube account on older versions of the streaming puck, leaving you better off just casting from your phone (especially if you pay to see an ad-free YouTube).
While choosing videos on your phone and sending them to your TV through the Chromecast was originally how the device was supposed to work, Google recently added to that experience. Last year, users got the ability to use their phones as a remote to scroll through a YouTube UI on the Chromecast, letting them use their big screen to pick out videos.
While you can technically still browse through YouTube using your phone as a remote, you’ll have to do so as a logged-out guest — no personalized recommendations, playlists, or viewing history from the rest of your devices directly on the Chromecast. For YouTube Premium subscribers, it’s even worse; currently, if they use the YouTube interface on the Chromecast, it’ll include the ads they pay not to see on the rest of their devices.
While this is mostly a minor inconvenience (again, you can still use your phone to queue up videos, which will play without ads if you’re a Premium subscriber), the bizarre thing is how Google has communicated pulling a major part of a relatively new feature. Here’s Google in December 2021, tweeting to show off how you could get YouTube’s UI directly on the Chromecast:
And here it is in June 2022, dropping a bombshell to most users that signing into YouTube is no longer supported on “older Chromecast devices:”
Talk about whiplash — there are dozens of replies to YouTube asking why it’s removed the feature and why it didn’t announce that it was doing so, leaving users frustrated by an unexplained “Can’t sign in” error message. We’ve reached out to Google to ask why it made the change and to get a list of exactly which Chromecast devices this affects, but so far, we haven’t received a response.
There’s one more twist that makes this whole thing even stranger. In a forum reply spotted by Android Police, a Google community manager says that the company is working to resolve an issue where Premium members see ads when using the remote to control YouTube on their Chromecasts. It’s hard to imagine a software solution to that problem that wouldn’t enable, you know, the exact same logged-in experience that people had access to just a few weeks ago before it was removed.