Now that users outside of the U.S. can get their hands on Chromecast, Google's streaming media device, today is a good a time as any for an overview of some of the best apps available. Chromecast plugs into the HDMI slot of your TV and connects it, via Wi-Fi, to any number of applications that can stream and beam videos, music, web pages, images, games, podcasts and all manner of other media to the big screen.
Google opened up the Chromecast API to third-party developers in February 2014, which means more choice for users when it comes to content and support. We've already looked at some the best Chromecast tricks around, so now let's take a look at some of the best apps on the market.
Stream Videos and Music with AllCast ($4.99: Android)
AllCast allows the user to stream videos, music and images directly from their Android to Chromecast, as well as to their Apple TV, Roku, Xbox and other OTT devices. Owners of Samsung, Sony and Panasonic Smart TVs can also stream directly to those connected TVs. A decent Wi-Fi connection is essential but users can trial a free version to see whether it's something they can work with. Here's the explainer vid from the development team.
Watch the Best of British TV with BBC iPlayer (Free: iOS, Android)
The BBC updated its iPlayer app after the release of Chromecast in the UK and viewers (in the UK) can now watch The Great British Bake Off and Doctor Who to their heart's content. The update allows users to watch the iPlayer via their mobile device and stream it to Chromecast using the phone or tablet as a remote control. Available for iOS, Android.
Binge Watch Your Favorites with Netflix (Free: iOS, Android)
If you're a Netflix subscriber you are going to want to watch your favorite movies and TV shows on the biggest screen you can and the Netflix app for Chromecast allows you to do just that. Once installed, subscribers can rewind, fast-forward, pause a show or film, rate it and move onto another one. The app also allows users to chang the settings for closed captions and audio. Available for iOS, Android.
Beam from Computer to TV with Plex ($4.95: iOS, Android)
Plex promises to "organize all of your personal media, wherever you keep it, so you can enjoy it on any device" and that's true for Chromecast too as long as you have installed the Plex Media Server on your PC. Plex will not only beam content that you have sitting on your PC but it will also pull in related content from the web, which is a nice little touch. Available for iOS, Android.
Infinite Cat Videos on YouTube (Free: iOS, Android)
Google hasn't made it easy for owners of other OTT devices like Roku to access YouTube, but this was never going to be an issue with Chromecast. Viewers can send native and embedded YouTube content to their TVs, queuing up videos to play in order, as well as selecting the clips they want to watch from within the app itself. It's available for iOS, Android. Need a little more persuading? Here are the folks from Google to tell you all about it:
Listens to Podcasts with Pocketcasts ($3.99: Android)
We're all about online video here but we also listen to our fair share of podcasts and Pocket Casts for Chromecast is an Android and iOS app that allows listeners to stay up to date with their favorites. The podcatcher comes with an excellent 'Smart Playlists' feature, essential if you subscribe to more than a handful and there's also a very handy auto-download option. The developers have made a short little video which goes into a little more detail:
Play Old School Geeky Games with GamingCast ($1.40: Android)
If you have fond memories of playing Snake on the Nokia 3310, or Pong via a games console the size of a washing machine, you are going to love this gaming app for Chromecast. It's a selection of retro games you can play via your TV using your smartphone as the controller. There's been complaints of lag but hey, it's a cheap and cheerful way to while away the afternoon. Available for Android only, here it is in action:
The Pick of the Rest
- CastPad - the easiest way to draw on your Chromecast!
- Photowall - does what it says on the tin
- Hulu Plus - for Android & iOS
- Pixocast - mobile video playback
- Vevo - for all your Justin Bieber needs
- RemoteCast - in beta, but looks promising
Cast Store for Chromecast is the best discovery tool for Chromecast apps right now. Take a look and see what kind of tools might work for you. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.