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How to Improve the Chromecast
I just played with the new Google Play Movies update and thought I'd share my thoughts on what Google needs to do to improve the interface on Chromecast apps.
First, the generic lock screen controls need to be significantly enhanced. Right now the vast majority of video apps show you a play/pause button and that's it. In Google Play Movies, you can hold down on the lock screen movie title and a scrubber appears. However, a scrubber isn't very useful without thumbnails, nor should the scrubber be hidden behind the movie title. The ideal lock screen controls show app name, movie title, scrubber (with thumbnails when you touch it), followed by three buttons underneath: 10 second rewind, play/pause, and stop. All of these controls need to be immediately accessible from the lock screen on every video app. If you're sitting on your couch watching Netflix, I don't think you're too worried about accidentally pressing things on the lock screen. It shouldn't be necessary to unlock the device to control any normal playback functions. This is a huge issue Google needs to fix if people are going to give up their remote controls.
Second, the notification shade controls need to follow suit. Every video app needs 10 second rewind, play/pause, and stop.
Third, volume needs to be controllable even when the phone screen is off. This happens right now for Play Movies/Music, but I don't think it works in other apps. This means that I have to keep picking up the remote to change the volume, or unlock the phone and then change the volume. The volume buttons should work no matter the state of the phone, and this needs to be universal.
Fourth, there needs to be a change in how phones interact with the Chromecast. When I connect to the Chromecast in Netflix, the phone should remember this. When I get bored and open Hulu Plus, it should still know I'm controlling the Chromecast. I understand there are use cases where someone might want to pull up one video on the TV and another on their phone, but I think most people want to control the TV and only the TV. So the phone should be linked to the Chromecast, and when I switch between 5 different apps in one night (not uncommon, and likely to increase as time goes on) I should never have to touch the Chromecast button at the top of any of the apps except the first, I should just click the content I want to watch in each app. Constantly reconnecting becomes annoying very quickly, and if this is going to be how people watch TV, it needs to be more seamless.
Anyway, if you have any ideas feel free to share them as well. I'm very excited about the Chromecast, and I really wish a major player (Apple seems well-suited) would come out with a copycat competitor that pushes Google to innovate faster in this area. The Chromecast has only been out 8 months, but I already feel like there is so much untapped potential with this interface that they (and their app partners) are leaving on the table. I also realize I've got some unrealistic expectations.