A new free Chromecast with Google TV update adds much better headphones support at last

 Blue Chromecast with Google TV plugged into the back of a TV with the remote next to it.
Blue Chromecast with Google TV plugged into the back of a TV with the remote next to it.

As we reported back in January, Google TV was set to get an update to deliver much better wireless headphone support with easy switching and fast pairing. And now the promised update has arrived in the latest system update for Chromecast with Google TV (4K).

The update, which brings Fast Pair to the Chromecast for compatible headphones (which includes loads of the best wireless headphones and best wireless earbuds, including from the likes of Sony) two years after it was initially announced, is rolling out now with the usual collection of bug fixes and performance improvements. Once installed, you should find the new features work automatically.

How to get the Chromecast with Google TV (4K) update

The update should roll out to your hardware automatically, but if the new features aren't appearing then you can do a manual check by going into Settings > System > About > System Update. The update is 169MB so it should be a pretty speedy download if you have a robust internet connection.

The benefits of Fast Pair are pretty obvious, as they speed up the pairing process between headphones and TV. When you open up the case of a compatible pair of headphones, for example Pixel Buds Pro, you should now see a pop-up in the top right corner of your screen to tell you that your headphones are available. If you select it you'll then be taken to the Connect screen to switch to that audio output.

The new audio switcher is potentially very useful because it solves a minor but annoying problem where simply switching between different audio outputs meant navigating apparently endless settings screens. That's gone, replaced by a new Audio Output tile alongside the screensaver, Wi-Fi, accessibility and Bluetooth. The tile displays the currently selected audio device, whether that's your TV speakers, your soundbar or your headphones.

Now that it's now hassle to switch to your headphones, a lot of people may find themselves using this option if you want to watch something without waking the household – or maybe just so you can hear better when the house is noisy if you have a pair of the best noise-cancelling headphones or best noise-cancelling earbuds.

The new features are also coming to Google TVs: the new audio switcher feature was demonstrated on a TCL QM8 TV at the CES trade exhibition and should be baked in to new Google TVs that launch this year.

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