Google Assistant now has Chromecast and TV functionality without Home

Though Google Assistant expanded beyond the Pixel and onto Android handsets back in February, there remain a few tasks it can't accomplish without a Google Home backing it up. One of the most annoying limitations on the smartphone implementation of Assistant is that you can't use it to control smart TVs and Chromecast devices. If you want to control playback on either of those, you'll need to talk through Assistant though Google Home.

There's no apparent reason why this wasn't possible from the get-go, but from today, that question becomes less relevant. Android Police reports that such functionality is going live, letting you use Assistant to control playback to TVs and Chromecasts directly from your phone. No more using Google Home to bridge the gap!

It seems that Google hasn't officially announced this new functionality just yet, leaving some question as to whether certain updates need to be applied before you can start controlling Chromecasts and TVs through your phone. Some of the users sending in tips to Android Police seem to have varying levels of success in trying this functionality, which suggests that it could be something Google is rolling out in phases.

In any case, those who do have this option available are discovering fairly fleshed-out functionality. You can use Assistant to control playback of audio and video, telling it to skip songs, adjust volume, or pause, stop, and play. You can also tell Google Assistant to play on a specific Chromecast, just like you can on Google Home.

This is big for a couple of reasons. The first is that it allows people who don't own a Google Home to enjoy the same Assistant controls on their phones. It also helps decrease fragmentation in the Assistant, bringing its capabilities to similar levels regardless of the device it's used on. We'll see if Google clarifies how this roll out is being handled soon, so stay tuned.