The Best Chromecast Apps
Whether you own the old Chromecast (2013) or the all-new Chromecast, Google's pint-sized streaming stick is a godsend for non-smart TV owners. And, at $59 for the new model, it's the perfect addition to any streaming centre 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 centre.
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.
Google Play Movies & TV
Subscription services like Netflix and Stan are great in certain scenarios: because they're all you-can-stream, and you never need to open up your wallet in between seasons. As a trade-off, however, you (for the most part) 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.
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.
Though it's since gone on to add support for Apple TV, PS3 and PS4, Xbox One, Fetch TV and a number of Smart TVs, the Stan streaming service launched in Australia with a focus on Chromecast. Stan made the decision to buy a Chromecast a no-brainer for people who were looking to finally jump into the streaming media scene for the first time. The service features a fantastic and diverse range of television shows and films, easily competing with the local version of Netflix in terms of quality content.
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.
Though it doesn't technically have its own Chromecast app, casting your Spotify songs to Google's streaming stick from your smartphone or tablet certainly works a treat. With over 30 million songs to choose from, getting a party started is as easy as sticking a Chromecast into your home theatre system and selecting some real bangers to play.
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.
We've sung Plex's praises before: the media centre 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.
NBA Game Time
Did someone say Boom-shaka-laka? No? Well, maybe it was just in my head. Basketball fans know this feeling all too well, which is why the NBA Game Time app is absolutely essential for anyone who wants to stay completely up-to-date with everything that's happening on (and off) the court. If you can't get by with news and highlights, you can also stream full in-season and playoff games, though you'll need to acquire an NBA League Pass for $299.99.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
One of the first Australian apps to take advantage of the Chromecast, Presto has been streaming content to Aussies since long before the likes of Netflix and Stan arrived on our shores. Featuring a large of selection of television shows (including complete seasons of HBO content) and films, Presto may not have the polish of its streaming rivals, but undeniably offers a solid streaming experience all round.