Google is famous for its hidden “Google Labs” features. They are, in Google’s own words, “are a testing ground for experimental features that aren’t quite ready for primetime. They may change, break, or disappear at any time.” As early adopters of Gmail know, many such features stay in the experimental phase for years and years.
In the Google Play Music realm, there are only a few Google Labs features. The lowest risk and highest pay off one is probably the Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer. This does exactly what it sounds like: it turns your Chromecast into a virtual fireplace when you’re playing music to it. You’ll see the fireplace instead of the normal album artwork, etc. I’ll show you how to enable it.
How to Enable the Experimental Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer
On a desktop web browser, go to https://play.google.com/music/listen#/accountsettings. Or, if you have Google Music pulled up in your browser already, click the hamburger menu and choose Settings.
Scroll all the way down to the Labs section. Toggle on the Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer.
Now, when you cast music to a Chromecast device, you’ll be treated to a merry blaze. If you ever want to switch back, just come back here and toggle it off.
Here it is in action on my Vizio SmartCast TV, which has Chromecast built right into it. With this feature enabled, I can now shout at my Google Home Mini, “Hey, Google: Cast Found/Tonight by Ben Platt and Lin-Manuel Miranda to my Family Room TV” and not only will I hear this Hamilton/Dear Evan Hansen mashup, I’ll also get to see a virtual fireplace above my actual fireplace.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the future is bright.
As far as virtual fireplaces go, this Chromecast one is pretty standard issue. While I’m not an accredited virtual fireplace critic, I’ll admit that Google’s Chromecast fireplace doesn’t have the authentic crackle and drama of some of your higher end virtual fireplaces. But if you’re just looking for a little seasonal warmth, then activating this just-for-fun Google Labs feature is worth a shot.
Do you have strong feelings one way or the other about the Chromecast Fireplace Visualizer? If so, I’m shocked. Please tell us your story in the comments.