Casting for all? Hotel TVs finally support AirPlay and Google Cast

A hotel TV showing the option to use Chromecast (Google Cast).
A recent hotel stay highlighted Google’s Chromecast but was missing Apple’s AirPlay altogether. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

If your family is divided between two ideological camps, it can be a never-ending source of anxiety. No, I’m not talking about the split between Democrats and Republicans. I’m talking about the far more serious schism between Apple and Android users when it comes to sending content from the smallest of screens to the biggest.

In households where all members carry an iPhone, the universal solution to casting content to a TV is Apple’s AirPlay technology. Whether embedded in a smart TV or accessed via an Apple TV or other compatible device, AirPlay lets Apple products screenshare or play content from apps on the biggest screen in the home.

For an all-Android household, the same thing can be done using Google Cast (previously known as Chromecast built-in), either baked into a smart TV or using an Android TV/Google TV streaming device like the Nvidia Shield or the newer and more economical Onn 4K Pro as a go-between.

For the uninitiated: AirPlay only works with Apple devices. Google Cast is a bit more open, baked into the operating system on Android but also available at the application level on Android and iOS devices and in web browsers.

But when some folks have Android and others have Apple? Oh, the humanity!

Mine is just such a family. I use an iPhone. So do my kids. My wife, who reluctantly made the switch from her Blackberry to an Android phone years ago, is more reluctant to switch technologies yet again. I have tried to nudge her toward the technological majority, but we’ve been doing the marriage thing for 25 years, and I know which hills I’m willing to die on. This isn’t one of them.

So we have both an Apple TV 4K and an Nvidia Shield 2019 connected to our aging LG OLED TV — which doesn’t do AirPlay or Google Cast on its own in any respect.

And when the four of us end up on the couch together for a round of “Oooh, let me show you the coolest thing I saw the other day,” it inevitably becomes a battle of remotes as we switch between devices.

Thankfully, this admittedly low-stakes war will soon be a thing of the past — at least in hotel rooms.

At the recent Hitec 2024 tradeshow in Charlotte, N.C., Samsung and LG showed off new versions of their hospitality TVs — the TVs that hotels install in guest rooms — and each company bragged about its new built-in casting capabilities via AirPlay and Google Cast.

Sidebar: If you’re scratching your head in confusion because (a) haven’t we had built-in casting on TVs for years and (b) hasn’t hotel TV casting also been around for a while? You’re right on both counts.

The answers are: (a) hospitality TVs are unique models sold only to hotels and similar companies, and they often lag behind consumer sets in terms of features and specifications, and (b) while Google Cast has been in hotels for several years (and often via third-party devices or HDMI dongles, which adds cost and complexity for hotels), AirPlay support has been very spotty.

Samsung and LG’s announcements are a sign that things are about to get much better.

Despite still requiring a dongle for Google Cast, Samsung has announced its hotel TVs will be AirPlay-compatible, and LG — which introduced AirPlay on hotel TVs in 2023 — has indicated that the Hyatt hotel chain will be the first to get its new Google Cast-capable models.

So, peace at last? Yes, but frankly, the whole situation remains somewhat ridiculous.

If only there were a technology built for cross-platform casting. One that would just work regardless of which device was in your pocket, or which TV was installed in your hotel room.

Oh, wait, there is: It’s called Matter Casting.

Developed in tandem with Google, Apple, and a host of other major tech companies, Matter Casting uses the open-source and royalty-free Matter connectivity standard to provide a common casting platform for virtually any device. And it’s not just a standard in search of participants.

Apple already supports Matter via its Apple Home app. Several of its devices can act as Matter hubs, and HomeKit — Apple’s smart home platform for third-party accessories — is Matter-compatible.

Google has been equally supportive. Its Google Home app works with Matter, and many of its smart devices (speakers, displays, and Wi-Fi routers) can act as Matter hubs.

As for getting Matter Casting to appear on home or hotel TVs? There’s a hint in the very last footnote on Samsung’s press release announcing the addition of AirPlay to its hospitality TVs: “Matter and the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA) can be connected to SmartThings Pro.”

Since SmartThings Pro is a feature that’s built into these new hotel TVs, there’s hope that — one day — any device will be able to cast to these screens. And if Samsung enables it, there’s a good chance that the rest of the industry will follow.