Google has removed the guest mode functionality from its Chromecast devices. The feature, added back in 2014, enabled people to 'Cast' to a TV without having to be on the same Wi-Fi network (via 9to5Google).
The feature, which was on Cast-enabled Chromecasts including the first model, second Ultra and third-generation devices, and not the Chromecast with Google TV, meant there were two ways to connect to these devices without having to connect to the same Wi-Fi network. The primary method actually involved the Chromecast emitting a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth beacon that would display the Cast icon in apps, which would then be picked up by guest phones that weren’t even on the Wi-Fi network.
The second method involved you entering a 4-digit pin code that appeared on the screen. It would be transferred via "short, inaudible audio tones" and the code would reset itself every 24 hours.
The removal of these options a confirmed when you visit the Google Chromecast support page entitled ‘Setup and manage guest mode’, where there is now a warning icon that basically tells you to connect to the host Wi-Fi network if you want to Cast content.
A useful feature that's a shame to lose
Although connecting to a host Wi-Fi is not the end of the world, it still begs the question why Google has decided to remove what is generally a really useful little feature that was introduced nearly 10 years ago.
If anything, it seems like a feature that should have been added to the Chromecast with Google TV to make it easier for guests to Cast and share things. As we said in our review of the Google Chromecast (3rd Generation), if you had a party, guest mode was "way easier than trying to keep track of a remote in a crowded room" if you were trying to play music.
It seems like a real step backwards and as one Reddit user pointed out, with guest mode gone, taking the Chromecast travelling now comes with several caveats in itself. The guest mode feature meant there was no need to try to connect to a Wi-Fi network on your travels to try and stream content, but now that it’s gone, people are having to find workarounds and solutions that they shouldn’t have to.
It's possible that it was removed (and never launched on Chromecast with Google TV) for security reasons, but that would just raise the question of why it wasn't removed before now. Either way, it's never a good thing when tech become less useful after you buy it.