The YouTube experience on previous Chromecast devices was very basic, but will probably become more sophisticated in the future. A reader 9to5Google found that Google is testing a web-based YouTube ‘app’ for Chromecast that significantly extends its functionality without the need for an Android TV-based device like the latest Chromecast or Smart TV.
Chromecast users getting the new YouTube experience reported seeing a much more advanced media player. You can add videos to the queue, change the resolution, turn on subtitles, and even check video statistics. When the clip is finished, a suggestion pop-up for more videos appears, as an alternative to returning to the Homescreen.
According to the report, the remote control on the YouTube mobile app helps users navigate. The test has now disappeared from the user’s device. It’s unclear when this YouTube web app will actually arrive on Chromecast.
If this does roll out, it signals a change in Google’s living room strategy. Until Android TV arrived, Google was treating Chromecasts as just an audiovisual channel for whatever was happening on an Android phone. While you obviously still need a phone for this YouTube app to work, the ‘basic’ Chromecast can behave more like a full-fledged media hub and reduce the temptation to buy a new device.