The Best Chromecast Apps
Whether you own the Chromecast (2013) or the all-new Chromecast, Google's pint-sized streaming stick is a godsend for non-smart TV owners. And, at $35/£30, it's the perfect addition to any streaming center currently devoid of a set-top box or gaming console.
After two years of near-universally acclaimed existence, Google's little streaming stick continues to impress, and counting more apps at its disposal than ever before. To that end, the iTunes and Google Play Stores have acquired hundreds of Chromecast-compatible apps worthy of your attention.
The flip side of all this choice is that, sorting out the worthwhile apps is like watching the new Fantastic Four movie: tedious.
That's why we've put together a list of the best Chromecast-compatible apps that are sure to turn your minor investment into a major component of your home entertainment center.
If you want the most essential app for your new Chromecast, you don't have to look far. The eponymous Chromecast app has always been a staple of the platform, but now it's more versatile than ever thanks to built-in universal search, content discovery and app recommendations. The app will also be your primary way to add more than one device if, say, you buy a second Chromecast for the upstairs bedroom.
The app itself is free, which is good because we're 99% sure you need it to setup the device.
Netflix is the penultimate Chromecast-enabled app. Tossing a TV show from your phone or mobile device is as simple as hitting the Cast button, and the results are near instantaneous. Offering hundreds of TV shows and movies as well as some of the best original programming this side of a premium cable subscription, Netflix should be your first stop on the road to building your Chromecast app collection.
While the app itself is free on iOS and Android, you'll need to be a Netflix subscriber in order to stream content. Plans start at $8.99/£6.99 a month.
3. HBO Now
HBO Go was a good service. It allowed cable subscribers who purchased HBO through their cable plans to watch the premium channel on their iOS and Android devices. For a time, that was enough.
It wasn't until HBO Now was announced that our eyes were opened to the bigger picture. As a standalone streaming service like Netflix and Hulu, HBO Now unshackled itself premium cable packages, allowing users to watch shows like Game of Thrones and Silicon Valley without buying a whole cable package. After its short, three-month exclusivity contract with Apple came to a close in August 2015, it rocketed to the top as one of the best Chromecast-compatible streaming apps out there.
Like Netflix, the HBO Now app is free, but a subscription to the service costs $15/£9.50 a month. (Currently unavailable in Australia.)
4. Google Play Movies & TV
Subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video are great in certain scenarios: because they're all you-can-stream, you never need to open up your wallet in between seasons. As a trade-off, however, you don't have the latest shows and movies at your fingertips. For that, we recommend the cross-platform compatible Google Play Movies & TV.
Using your Google account, you can instantly purchase and watch anything on the Play Store (think movies and TV shows from recently released blockbusters to videophile classics) without needing to download the content on your mobile device. Couple that with an easy-to-understand interface and seamless Chromecast compatibility, and the Google Play app quickly becomes the best piecemeal video service on either platform.
Google Play Movies & TV is free to download on both iOS and Android.
Even the stingiest of streamers can appreciate YouTube's fantastic and free Chromecast-enabled mobile app. It's interface is simplistically designed, just like the Chromecast itself, so it's only a matter of seconds from when you find a funny video until it's broadcast on your big screen.
YouTube is free to download on both iOS and Android.
Rdio and Pandora are mainstays of Chromecast music app roundups. While the latter is great for audio enthusiasts who like to "set it and forget it," Rdio shines the brightest as the ultimate house-party companion. The freedom to pick whatever song you want without restrictions coupled with the ability to build playlists on the fly moves the party from your pocket to the home entertainment center so everyone can bust a move.
Rdio is free on iOS and Android, but to hear full versions of mainstream music you'll need an Rdio Unlimited subscription which costs $10/£10/AU$12 per month.
7. Google Play Music
Google Play Music is the ultimate player for anyone heavily invested in the Mountain View company's audio store. Able to stream tunes from your library as well as from a massive catalog of on-demand music, Google one-ups the competition by adding Chromecast support to its iOS and Android Google Play Music apps.
Google Play Music is free to download on both platforms, but streaming music on demand requires a subscription to Google Play Music All Access, a service that costs $10/£10/AU$12.
We've sung Plex's praises before: the media center app takes TV shows and movies stored on your PC and streams them conveniently to your phone. Plex's best trick, however, is that it can send this stream to your Chromecast, effectively giving you a set-top box with access to any movie or TV show you can possibly imagine.
Plex is free on both iOS and Android.
9. BBC iPlayer
If you live in the UK, one of the best and brightest names in entertainment is the BBC. Perhaps unsurprisingly, being so big and so bright the channel offers a free app that works with Chromecast. On it you'll find new episodes of the Doctor and Looper, as well as need-to-know news stories. Of course if you don't have your handset handy you can always stream from your laptop or tablet to the big screen, too.
BBC iPlayer is free on both iOS and Android.
Having trouble finding time to go to the gym? DailyBurn is exactly what the doctor ordered. The app is available on iOS and Android and offers over 100 video demonstrations of popular exercises inside multi-week fitness programs. Videos can be sent directly to your Chromecast from inside the app on your phone, transforming your living room into a 24-Hour Fitness.
While the DailyBurn app is free, you'll need to purchase individual workout programs to watch any of the aforementioned videos.
AllCast is the Swiss Army Knife of Chromecast-enabled apps. AllCast offers an all-in-one way to take movies, music and pictures from your small screen and shoot it to your dongle. The free version slots in a few annoying ads and limits video length to a few minutes, but for frugal streamers it's the easiest, most effective method to taking your content from your mobile device to the big screen.
AllCast is available on iOS and Android. AllCast Premium costs $5/AU$5. Only the free version is available in the UK.
At this point we've covered the best ways to share movies, music, TV shows and photos with Chromecast, but what if you want to show off some good ol' web pages? For that your best bet is Chrome. Like using a web browser on a desktop, the mobile versions of Google Chrome essentially mirror your screen, letting everyone around see what you're seeing on your phone.
Chrome is available for free on both iOS and Android.
13. Big Web Quiz
While Google is better known as a hardware and application developer, it knows how to make low-key games, too. Big Web Quiz is basically Trivial Pursuit with your phone. To get going, you and up to four friends download the app on your iOS and/or Android devices, select from one of the zany avatars and then answer questions randomly selected from Google search trends and Google Knowledge Graph. What better way is there to show off a new piece of tech than to use it to demonstrate how vastly intelligent you are to all your friends?
Big Web Quiz is available for free on both iOS and Android.
14. Tricky Titans
Finding a rock-solid Chromecast game is the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. More entertaining games have made their way onto the system (see: Tricky Titans, Big Web Quiz and Monopoly Dash), but they're few and far between. Tricky Titans takes your standard rock-paper-scissors game and adds in up to four ogres dead-set on destroying each other's town by hurling pieces of your settlement at your opponents. It's silly, hokey and not overly complex, but Tricky Titans is a fun party game that will hold your attention just long enough to have a good time.
Tricky Titans is available for free on both iOS and Android.
15. Monopoly Dash
A standard game of Monopoly takes around three hours, not including the time it takes to sort out the money and clean up the floor after someone inevitably flips the table in a fit of rage. A standard game of Monopoly Dash only takes about 15 minutes, though, it could take longer should someone still decide to flip a nearby table. The game is played like GoFish. You try to complete sets of properties to earn money, and the person with the most money at the end of the game wins. It's simple, sure, but that doesn't make victory any less sweet when you take the game-winning card from grandma.
Monopoly Dash is available for free on both iOS and Android.
Twitch is a gamer's paradise. With thousands of streams going on around the clock, there's always a new game to watch or streamer to laugh at. Best of all, because Twitch's app is Chromecast-enabled, the party doesn't have to stop on your small screen. Whether you're an eSports fan, a retro enthusiast or just want to watch someone beat Super Mario World in under 27 minutes ... blindfolded, this is the place.
Twitch is available for free on both iOS and Android.
17. Udemy Online Courses
If you've ever used Khan Academy, you'll know what to expect from Udemy, a platform that helps anyone continue their education outside of the classroom. Udemy offers video lessons in tons of different subjects ranging from web development to the arts, health and fitness to language, and everything in between. While our next app might teach you a few tidbits of information to pull out at an art show, Udemy offers a world of knowledge at your fingertips.
The Udemy Online Courses app is available for free on iOS and Android, but individual courses range in price from free to $299.
There aren't many apps that make you a smarter, more well-rounded person (barring Udemy of course), but Artkick might be the other exception. Billed as a digital wallpaper app, Artkick uses famous paintings and photographs to replace Chromecast's generic screen saver. From Monet to Picasso, Dali to Warhol, the app offers a degree in art history without all the stuffy classrooms and awkward naked portraits. The only downside? The app, unlike the gorgeous images it displays, is downright ugly.
Artkick is available for free on both iOS and Android.