Here at Genealogy Gems we love using Google for genealogy. Today we have another exciting Google resource that can transform how you share your genealogy with your family – because ultimately, genealogy is all about sharing your family’s story!
While the mobile device era has made communication and sharing easy and instant, sometimes it’s hard to really see the ‘big picture’ on our tiny screens. And crowding around the computer monitor isn’t much better. Chromecast by Google is a tool that allows you to stream content from your mobile devices and computers directly onto your TV!
You can share slideshows, photos, videos, and more while everyone is seated comfortably in the living room. If you are looking for an easy and inviting way for your family to enjoy all the hard work you put into constructing the family tree, Chromecast is for you. The Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player currently sells for $35 and takes a mere 5 to 10 minutes to set up.
Even though I’m Lisa’s daughter, I am not a techie person at all, so if I can do it in just a few minutes without help, you can too!
How to Use Chromecast
After you’ve completed the initial set up, simply open the app you want to stream (YouTube, for example) and tap the Chromecast icon. Streaming is now enabled. (Chromecast primarily works over wifi, but Google recently announced that Ethernet cables are now available as an alternative.)
While streaming, you control the app functions on your mobile device or computer. For example, if you’re streaming a movie from the Netflix app on your iPad, you would play, pause, and make your selections directly on your iPad. If you want to switch back to viewing on your mobile device (or simply stop streaming), tap the Chromecast icon again.
Dozens of photo and video apps are compatible with Chromecast and all are listed on their website. Here are a few that I think genealogists will really enjoy, and they’re all available on both The App Store and Google Play:
Photo Cast for Chromecast
Premium Upgrades – $2.99 and up
When you open the app, you can view all the photos and videos (including TV shows or movies you may have purchased) on your device. You can also create slideshows by picking individual photos or entire albums and adding songs from your music library. Then tap the Chromecast icon to instantly stream to your TV. It has four viewing modes available. Photo streaming has very little lag, but video streaming could take a little longer to load, depending on your wifi speeds. Multiple devices can stream to the same TV, and slideshows can continue to play on the TV while you use your mobile device for other tasks.
Google Slides is an ideal tool for Chromecast because it is linked directly to your Google account. I recommend using Google Slides from your laptop or desktop because you can pull pictures from your hard drive (or anywhere – you’re not limited only to the pictures on your mobile device). And personally I find I can work much more efficiently with a full mouse and keyboard for this kind of project. You can create a wonderfully detailed and multi-media slide show or presentation. Then, download the app to your mobile device and your presentations will be accessible there as well. I find streaming from your tablet works a little better than streaming from your computer, but you can still stream from a computer as long as it’s connected to wifi and is close enough to the TV to detect Chromecast.
Chromecast offers you an easy and convenient way to watch videos from our Genealogy Gems YouTube channel and other favorites on your TV! Open the YouTube app and tap the Chromecast icon. Browse videos as usual. When you select one to watch, it will stream to your TV with no loss of video or audio quality. You can also create a TV queue, specifically for videos you want to watch on the big screen. Tap on a video and a pop-up will ask to either play it or add it to your TV queue. The best part? YouTube will continue to play your video on your TV even if you minimize the app on your device to do other tasks. Before you finish your viewing session, be sure to tap the Subscribe button at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel so you’ll have easy access to all current and new videos.
Streaming from your desktop browser is another great feature. Anything you are viewing on your browser (videos, audio, website content, etc.) can be projected to your TV. You will need the current version of the Chrome web browser, as well as the Chromecast extension installed. In my personal experience I found streaming video from my browser to be a bit slow and choppy, but results may vary based on browser settings and wifi speeds. It’s worth a try, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this technology continues to evolve and improve.
TIP: How to Update Chrome
Normally, Chrome updates automatically in the background when you open and close your browser. But here’s how to check if you have the most current version of Chrome:
- Open Google Chrome.
- In the top right, click the Chrome menu
- Click About Google Chrome.
- The current version number is the series of numbers beneath the “Google Chrome” heading. Chrome will check for updates when you’re on this page.
- Click Relaunch to apply any available update.
Another cool thing about Chromecast:
Once you have Chromecast set up, your devices will detect any Chromecast that is nearby, whether it’s yours or someone else’s. So if you’re at a family member’s home and they have Chromecast, you can stream from your device to their TV as well! Can you say “time to share the latest version of the family tree?”
Again, as a non-techie I found Chromecast to be very user-friendly, and a huge value for the price. There are loads of fun apps to explore (music, podcasts, interactive games, and even a karaoke app!). Happy streaming!
P.S. If you decide to purchase Chromecast, will you please use this link? Purchasing through our site supports the free Genealogy Gems podcast and all the free content on our website.
PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow Season 2 (USA) serves up pirate stories, heroes of the Holocaust and more–all in the context of tracking down everyday people’s family history! The season premieres Tuesday, January 13, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. ET and airs every Tuesday through February 24 (check local listings).
“Part detective story, part emotional journey, Genealogy Roadshow combines history and science to uncover fascinating stories of diverse Americans in and around St. Louis, Philadelphia and New Orleans,” says a PBS press release. “Each individual’s story links to a larger community (and in some cases, national) history, to become part of America’s rich cultural tapestry.”
The show’s new host is Mary Tedesco, a professional Italian genealogist whom you’ll get to meet in the upcoming January episode of The Genealogy Gems Podcast! Tune in here for more with Mary Tedesco and Genealogy Roadshow.
Here’s more from PBS on what Season 2 has in store: “Genealogy Roadshow stars genealogists Kenyatta D. Berry, Joshua Taylor and Mary Tedesco and features participants with unique claims and storylines, including a woman seeking to find out if she is descended from the infamous pirate Blackbeard; a pair of sisters exploring connections to a survivor of the legendary Donner party; a man hoping to recover essential family history that washed away in Hurricane Katrina; and a man learns that the event that drove his family to the City of Brotherly Love changed the course of history.
Over the course of the series, Berry, Taylor and Tedesco work with participants’ anecdotal clues, documents and family heirlooms to unite them with histories and people they never knew existed, as well as to reveal surprising turns and incredible histories….St. Louis, Philadelphia and New Orleans were chosen as representative of America’s fascinating crossroads of culture, diversity, industry and history, as well as for their deep pools of riveting stories. Genealogy Roadshow’s hosts and experts add color and context to the investigations, ensuring every artifact and every name becomes part of solving the mystery.”
Below are descriptions for all six episodes:
New Orleans – January 13, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the famous Cabildo, home of the Louisiana State Museum. A couple whose ancestors hail from the same small Italian town explore the chance they may be related; a woman is desperate to find out who committed a gruesome murder in her ancestor’s past; a home held by one family for more than a century renders a fascinating story; and a woman discovers the difficult journey her ancestor took on the path to freedom from slavery.
St. Louis – January 20, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
At Saint Louis’ historic central library, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories from Missouri’s famous gateway city. A mystery writer discovers her mother has hidden a life-changing secret; a woman finds out if she is descended from the infamous pirate Blackbeard; a mother and daughter seek connections to a famous author; and a young man seeks connection to the Mali tribe in Africa.
Philadelphia – January 27, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
At Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories. A man learns that the event that drove his family to the City of Brotherly Love changed the course of history; a man may be a Viking descendant; another’s family could have part of one of history’s biggest scams; a young man hopes to confirm his relation to a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and two sisters learn their ancestors were part of the great Irish migration.
New Orleans – February 3, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories at the New Orleans Board of Trade. A local man seeks to recover essential history washed away in Hurricane Katrina; a woman discovers she has links to both sides of the Civil War; another unravels the mystery behind her grandfather’s adoption; and one man explores a link to the famous New Orleans Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.
St. Louis – February 10, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
At St. Louis’ historic Union Station, a team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family stories from Missouri. A musician hopes to find connections to a famous St. Louis jazz composer; two sisters explore links to a survivor of the legendary Donner party; an Italian-American woman finds out if she is related to Italian royalty; and a schoolteacher who has all the answers for her students has very few about her own past.
Philadelphia – February 17, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.
A team of genealogists uncovers fascinating family histories at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. One woman’s ancestor may have sparked historic labor laws; a pastor may have an outlaw in her family tree; a woman learns about slave genealogy and, with the help of DNA testing, gets the answer she has waited for; and another woman learns her ancestor may have helped others escape the Holocaust.
Tell us what you think of the episodes on our Facebook page!
Have you caught the new season of the British television show Long Lost Family? Critic Michael Hogan of The Telegraph (UK) did, and he gave it a 4-star review.
This ITV series follows the stories of people who are trying to reunite with (you guessed it) long lost family members. Hogan was hooked pretty quickly: “Within precisely four minutes, even this cynical, stony-hearted critic.. [was] blinking back tears.” He goes on to summarize the stories of birth parents and children who reunited on one episode of the show. Then he concludes, “This was effective, absorbing television that delivered two happy endings. By the time the credits rolled, I was blubbing like an Argentine footballer.” (See the full review here.)
Have YOU seen the show yet? Check it out at the ITV website (looks like episodes show for free for a limited time after airing). Or catch the show on ITV on Mondays at 9pm (BST).
Saw the show? Tell us what you think on the Genealogy Gems Facebook page!