Chromecast has been a big hit for Google. It piggybacks off tablets, smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices to turn your 'dumb' TV into a smart TV. The handy dongle plugs into an HDMI port, then lets you beam web browsers, streaming services and games from your device to your TV. The collection of compatible apps is growing too, so here's our list of the best Chromecast apps.
AllCast, from legendary developer Koushik Dutta, is one of the original and best Chromecast streaming apps. AllCast not only works with Chromecast, it can also be used to stream to your Amazon Fire TV, Xbox 360, Roku, Apple TV and more. Note that the free version has a five-minute viewing limit per session, so consider forking out the US$4.99 for the premium version.
VideoStream is the VLC of Chromecast streaming: it plays everything. With no need for different codecs or plugins, VideoStream simply streams content from your laptop or PC direct to your Chromecast-equipped TV. That's right, this is actually a Chrome extension for your computer, but once it's installed, you just need to grab the VideoStream Remote app from the Play Store and you can control everything from your phone or tablet.
Pandora needs little introduction as a streaming radio app, but it is Pandora's Chromecast support that earns it a spot on this list. The best thing is you probably already have Pandora on your phone, so there's no need to install anything else: it works with Chromecast already. If you're not already using Pandora, then give it a try and access up to 100 personalized radio stations for free.
What better way to unwind than watching the best gamers in the world playing through some of the toughest games on the planet? With more celebrities than Hollywood, Twitch is a gamer's paradise, full of quirky characters, nail-biting gameplay and moves the likes of which most of us are simply incapable of. It works with Chromecast too.
There are few games that feel as perfectly matched to the Chromecast as Big Web Quiz. Little wonder, considering it was developed by Google's in-house Creative Lab. With this app, you and four friends compete against each other in answering trivia questions as quickly as possible. Each of you answers them on your own device, while the questions and overall scoreboard are displayed on the big screen.
Questions are drawn from the Google Knowledge Graph, so are always up-to-date and refer to the most recent events happening in the world, as well as historical events, and other (sometimes crazy) categories.
The Chromecast already does a great job at streaming most things you throw it at directly from different devices, but BubbleUPnP acts as a great bridge to let you stream things from different DLNA devices, media servers and cloud storage services.
BubbleUPNP has some nifty Chromecast-specific features too, such as transcoding various media formats that are incompatible with Chromecast by default so that they work with the dongle. Rounding off the great features is a playback queue, which lets you line up media from various different devices to play on your Chromecast.
While development of this app seems to have all but given up on, and its full potential may never be fully realized, CastPad is the best sketching app around for the Chromecast. You're essentially given a blank screen to doodle, paint, draw, and spray-can to you heart's content.
Considering all the great drawing-based family games out there – like Pictionary – the potential for fun here is vast. It works a little erratically at times, but show your support by downloading it and maybe – just maybe – it'll receive another update at some point.
With thousands of radio stations to choose from, this easy-to-use app lets you tune in and start listening to your favorite music for free. The iHeartRadio app also features sophisticated algorithms to create custom stations for you based on your favorite music, and also lets you tune in to live radio and the occasional live music event. It's designed to work with your ChromeCast, making it the best music-streaming app currently available for the dongle.
Pocket Casts is one of the highest-rated apps on Android, and one of its finest no-nonsense podcast managers. You can not only stream but download all your favorite podcasts, then set up a playlist to beam to your Chromecast. It supports both audio and video streams, and has a neat interface that's in line with Lollipop's Material Design.
Amusingly, when we got in touch with the devs to ask about Pocket Casts' success story, they attributed it to a mixture of "blind luck" and "pure skill". There you have it, the formula for a successful app...
It may not be the highest-brow film-streaming service out there, but Crackle has a great easy-watching selection available for free. You aren't going to find the latest and greatest content, but with films like Men In Black, Bad Boys, and Snatch, it's a great trip down memory lane for those of us who grew up in the nineties and noughties.
Hulu, like Netflix, is a great TV and movie-watching service, where you can watch unlimited amounts of either on your Android smartphone or tablet for US$7.99 per month. It’s received high acclaim for offering a great selection and the latest episodes of your favorite shows, such as Family Guy, Sons of Anarchy, and Gotham.
All of this, of course, can be beamed from your smartphone or tablet to your TV via the wonderful Chromecast.
Plex is a personal multimedia app that lets you stream your videos, music, photos and home movies to your Android phone from any computer which is running Plex Media Server. It enables media syncing from your phone, as well as from Google Drive, Dropbox and other cloud storage services.
And now it goes a step further with Chromecast support: you can enjoy the services Plex has to offer on your HDTV. The mobile app costs US$4.99 on the Play Store.
With VEVO, you’ll be the first to know when a new video relating to your favorite music artists is out, at which point you can stream it from your device to your TV to enjoy it in all its full HD glory. It's not only official music videos that you can enjoy here, but also exclusive shows and live performances – all for free.
You can curate your own music video channels to share with others, or listen to video playlists created by other people with similar (or differing) tastes.
For our UK audience, the BBC iPlayer app is one of the best you can use if you have bought yourself a Chromecast dongle. It lets you watch live TV, and stream the latest programs from one of the best broadcasters of television in the world. Expect plenty of nature documentaries narrated by honey-voiced David Attenborough, incisive documentaries, panel shows, and plenty of classy, understated mini-series.
You can now add your own pictures to the Chromecast homescreen background, but if you’re looking for something with a little bit more functionality, check out MyCastScreen. The app itself costs US$0.99 and lets your cast cards with the time and date, local weather and traffic information, as well as news headlines. While it is still pretty new, the developer promises that more options and customizations are on the way.
Want to turn your television into a giant slideshow while entertaining? With Dayframe, you can cycle through your favorite social media photos and have them displayed on your television. The app connects to a bunch of different social media services, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, among others. Not only can you search your own photos, but you can also have it choose a bunch of random topics for you.
The app itself is free, but shows a small logo at the top of the screen. In order to get rid of it, you’ll need to upgrade to the Prime version for US$0.99.
For US$1.99, GamingCast brings some classic games to your television while using Chromecast and your mobile device. Choose from Snake, Pong, Xonix, or Tetris and try it out for yourself on your giant screen. While the selection is rather limited now, the developer has promised to bring more classic titles to the app in the near future.
Is our list not enough for you? Make sure to check out the Cast Store, which collates all Chromecast-compatible apps together in easy-to-find categories, so that you don’t have to search high and low in the Google Play Store.