Google Chromecast Review: A Streaming Device That Gets Better the More It Knows

All told, I was disappointed. Given how much Google knows about me, I was hoping it would do a better job at predicting what I would like to see. In the top row, labeled “Top picks for you,” Google recommended that I watch “The Wendy Williams Show,” a celebrity talk show, as well as “SportsCenter.” (For the record, both my wife and I don’t watch talk shows, and we’re not sports fans.)

It also recommended I check out “Wonder Park” and “Bigfoot Junior,” both children’s animated movies. (We don’t have children.)

A few of Google’s recommendations were spot on. “Snowpiercer,” a movie from my favorite Korean director, was a top pick. One row of recommendations was devoted to home improvement shows, which makes sense because I’ve been watching dozens of do-it-yourself repair videos to work on my house amid pandemic-induced boredom. Another row presented cooking videos from YouTubers I frequently watch for inspiration in the kitchen.

On the other hand, another row listed “Comedies about love,” including several Adam Sandler movies like “Big Daddy” and “Mr. Deeds.” (To put it lightly, I am no fan of Adam Sandler comedies.)

Over all, the “For you” page felt like a grab bag of hits and misses. The Chromecast also has an “Apps” page that shows a simple grid of my streaming apps for me to open and find content by myself. That’s generally how Roku and Apple TV work, and to me, that’s still a better way to watch TV.

I described my experience to Google and pressed the company on why it needed so much information just to set up the Chromecast.

The company said the setup process with the Google Home app was an optional shortcut to skip manually entering my Google account information and password with the remote control. Granting access to the location and camera sensors was a security requirement for the setup process. Sharing my home address, it turns out, was also optional, to help Google give updates on local information like the weather.

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