Eight Chromecast apps to get right now
Make the most of your Chromecast and embrace a wide range of apps.
Not to be outdone by the revamped Apple TV that debuted in late 2015, Google released an updated Chromecast around the same time. The new version has some funky upgrades, such as gaming tie-ins, but is probably going to end up being primarily a video-streaming device, just like its predecessor.
With popular sites Techradar and Australian PC magazine describing it as “the best getting better” and “an essential buy”, this $59 device is proving to be a popular way to turn your regular television into a smart, connected set, or even as an easy way to control apps streamed to a smart TV from your phone, instead of using a cumbersome TV remote.
What is Chromecast?
Image courtesy: Google
Google Chromecast is a small device that attaches to the HDMI port on your television. Once plugged in, it allows you to cast your favourite shows, movies, video games and websites on your big screen, provided the app you want to use has Chromecast support built in.
Instead of having a remote control, Chromecast works via an app your Android phone, iPhone, tablet, laptop or Chromebook, and communicates over your wi-fi network. Thousands of apps can integrate with Chromecast. Here are some of the more popular ones that will help you make the most of your device.
There are plenty of video streaming services available nowadays, but it’s possible you already had a lot of content saved to your laptop, PC or external hard drive from before online streaming became available.
The Videostream app quickly allows you to cast your existing content from a PC or laptop to your Chromecast, supporting most standard file types with ease. Once you have the app on both your computer and Android phone or tablet, you can use the latter like a remote to control your viewing.
Videostream is free in its most basic version but does have a cost for added features.
YouTube & YouTube Kids
Lose yourself in hours of funny cats, cute babies and music videos by casting YouTube to your home television screen. Being a Google product itself, YouTube is a relatively stable and smooth Chromecast experience.
If you have children, YouTube Kids is an excellent and safe way to keep them amused without having to worry that they are going to stumble across something inappropriate for their age bracket.
YouTube Kids includes classic favourites like Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as music and educational content. The app itself has big buttons that are easy for little ones to operate.
Along with the arguably better-known Netflix, Stan is one of the most popular services that allows you to stream unlimited HD movies and TV shows to your big screen.
With close to 900,000 Aussies boasting access across 330,000 subscriptions, Stan’s vast library includes thousands of titles.
As an Australian-owned joint venture between Fairfax Media and Channel 9, you can access content through Stan that is produced locally.
This includes a number of ABC series and home-grown movies that you won’t get on US-based Netflix.
It also has a large catalogue of global content ranging from up-to-the-minute like Better Call Saul, to older classics like Clarkson-era Top Gear, and the collected works of Star Trek, the TV series.
Stan has a monthly subscription fee of $10 after you have completed a 30 day free trial.
Presentations & Podcasting
While podcasting was originally audio-only technology, you can now access many popular series as video content and use your Chromecast to stream it to your television for a big screen experience.
This handy app is packed with features that go beyond creating playlists, with a backup option that stores your favourite podcasts in the cloud and filters to help you categorise your collection.
The TED revolution gave speakers, researchers, philosophers and educators from all over the world a chance to share their message with a global audience. This platform is the thinking person’s YouTube and is packed with thousands of presentations on everything from cybercrime to zombie cockroaches.
Streaming TED to your TV via the app is a good way to create a better viewing experience while you expand your mind and your knowledge of the world.
Website Tom’s Guide includes this multiplayer game on its list of top apps for Chromecast, recommending it as a fun way to hang out with friends. Up to five players can get involved, using their tablets or smartphones as a controller.
The premise is to “defend your village”, using a combination of strategy and muscle.
Google Chromecast is advised to make the most of this game, which has fun and colourful graphics.
Monopoly Here & Now
Great for rainy winter weekends – Monopoly always brings the family together.
Chromecast brings it into the modern day by allowing you to play on a communal screen rather than on a board that takes up space in the cupboard, and time to set up and pack away.
Instead of tootling around London, this version of the classic game takes you around the world.
Every player has to have the app on their own individual device in order to make their moves to play out on the big screen.
The added bonus is that nobody can get angry and flip the board (we’ve all been there)… just make sure you don’t let any sore losers near your TV!
Make the most of the thousands of photos you have sitting on your social media accounts and turn your television into a digital photo frame with the help of this app.
Dayframe is interactive, allowing you to zoom, pause and shuffle. It connects to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, Twitter and more to allow you to relive your favourite moments over and over again.
There isn’t an iOS version of Dayframe yet, but Photo Cast is a similar app. It taps into your iPhoto collection to share your pics in an infinite loop.
Like Apple TV, Chromecast is an easy and straightforward way to get more out of your home internet subscription, allowing you to access games, videos, music and a world of other content on your big screen.