Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
It used to be that Google’s Chromebooks were widely condemned as glorified browsers, with little offline capability and no chance of becoming widely adopted by consumers and businesses. Things have changed, however, and a steady stream of both operating system updates and new Chromebook machines over the last eighteen months have seen the devices become more useful than ever. Barely a week now goes by without news of another school, government organisation or start-up company making the Chromebook their computer of choice, yet still the machine fights against a tide of opinion that deems it unusable, useless, and poorly equipped.
Today we take a look at one area where a lot of people still harbour many misconceptions – offline movie playback.
What is ‘Google Play Movies and TV’?
Advertised by Google as a way to ‘watch your favourite movies and shows on your Chrome OS device, or any Chrome browser‘, the app allows users to buy or rent films and television shows and watch them anywhere, at any time – even when offline. It syncs content across multiple platforms and also acts as a hub for Chromecast. Chromecast is a high definition media streaming which plugs into the HDMI port on your TV and allows you to easily stream any media from both apps and supported devices, it’s widely considered to be Google’s answer to Apple TV.
Get the Latest Updates to Download Content
Quite simply, the only thing you need to be able to watch offline is the latest version of the ‘Google Play Movies and TV‘ app. Once you’ve grabbed it from the Google Web Store and opened it up, just head to the ‘My Movies’ tab at top of the page to see the content you already own. You will see a small download icon on each card of the media in your collection, simply click the button and the film or television show will be saved locally. You can cancel the download at any time by clicking on the same button.
Use the App to Watch Offline
Once the content has been downloaded you still need to use the app to view the content. Reopen ‘Google Play Movies and TV’ from the apps list on your Chromebook and once again head to ‘My Movies’. Any movies or TV shows that have been successfully downloaded for offline viewing will be marked with a red tick. Just click on the content you want and it will start playing.
Once you’ve finished watching the film, you might not want it to take up space on your device’s memory. Thankfully removing downloaded content is easy – click on the image of a pin of the card of the film or show in question and choose ‘Remove’.
Stream Offline Videos via Chromecast
It’s not just on planes and trains where the ability to watch offline video content could be useful. We’ve all experienced problems with our home Internet connections at various times, either due to an ISP outage, a router malfunctioning, or simple user error.
If this happens to you, and you own a Chromecast, you can still watch Google Play HD content on your TV without an Internet connection. Click the Chromecast icon near the top right corner of the video player, then under “Connect to a device” select your Chromecast from the device list. To cancel the playback click on the same icon and select ‘Stop casting’.
What Other Google Apps Work Offline?
The offline playback feature has actually been available for quite some time. An announcement was initially made by Google in May 2014 during a joint event with Intel, and at the time formed the latest part of the company’s on-going push to make the devices more useful offline. There are lots of myths about offline Chromebooks, but Google is determined to make its native apps all work offline, and in addition to Google Play now offers automatic offline syncing for both Google Drive and Google Keep, along with Google Calendar and Gmail. Numerous third-party apps also work offline.
What are Your Experiences?
Have you used a Chromebook to either watch videos offline or stream to a Chromecast while offline? How was your experience? Did you find it smooth and straightforward or did you encounter problems? Either way, we’d love to hear from you.
What about the perception of Chromebooks being useless offline? Does the constant flow of positive press mean you are slowly being converted, or are you one of those who refuses to acknowledge Chromebooks as worthy competitors to PCs and Macs? Again, we’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
You can leave your comments in the box below.