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Chromecast Review: Best Apps for iOS and Android

( [email protected] ) Dec 17, 2014 11:11 AM EST
The popularity of Google's Chromecast has reached unpresedented levels since its launch last year, and the number of applications that it supports has grown even further. Long gone are the days of cable or satellite subscriptions, as the tiny plug-in device turns your TV and smartphone into all the content you'll ever need for home entertainment.
The Chromecast dongle is all you'll need to get started with Google's enterprising new digital media player. Photo: Google

The popularity of Google's Chromecast has reached unprecedented levels since its launch last year, and the number of applications that it supports has grown even further. Long gone are the days of cable or satellite subscriptions, as the tiny plug-in device turns your TV and smartphone into all the content you'll ever need for home entertainment.

The Chromecast first launched on July 24, 2013 to allow digital media to be streamed in 1080p directly to any compatible HD TV through mobile apps or the Chrome browser running on a PC. Chromecast support through mobile apps extends to Apple's iOS, Google's own Android OS, and anything capable of running the Chrome web browser.

The Verge's Nilay Patal summed it up best in his review of the product when he said that Chromecast "is basically an impulse purchase that just happens to be the simplest, cheapest, and best solution for getting a browser window on your TV."

But the best part might just be the price. At launch, the 2.83-inch device sold for only $35, but through a special offer going on right now with Best Buy and Google, you can get $40 in Google Play Credit back when you buy the product for its reduced price of $30. That's quite a deal, but it expires on December 21.

So at this point you're probably wondering what specific content you can get through Chromecast, right? Let's take a look at some of the best apps available for Chromecast through both iOS and Android.

Videostream

This free Chromecast extension and Android app lets you play any video from your wi-fi network, from network drives, thumb drives, disc drives, etc, on to your TV. The extension itself allows playback from your computer, while the app lets you use your Android phone as a remote.

Netflix

The Netflix app is offered in both iOS and Android flavors, allowing you to watch any Netflix movie straight through the app and onto your TV. It allows the functionality of other Netflix apps on the PC and gaming consoles, including star rating, playlist, audio toggling, and you can pause on one device to continue watching on another on the same Netflix account. Plus, Netflix is becoming a content creator in its own right with popular new shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Lilyhammer, Marco Polo, and more.

HBO Go

A seperate app made just for one cable channel would seem like a waste, but HBO's quality of content completely justifies the app's existence. Game of Thrones, True Detective, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm and more are exclusive to HBO.

Crackle

If you're on a budget, you can skip the subscription fees of Netflix and HBO Go for Crackle. This app is available for both the iOS and Android to provide free movies and TV shows to your Chromecast, but don't expect to get the latest flicks.

Hulu Plus

The greatest thing abou Hulu Plus is the fact that it usually offers everything that Netflix doesn't. So if you can't find it on Netflix, check Hulu. The subscription-based service runs on an app that's available for both iOS and Android.

Fandor

But if it's the little-known indie films you prefer over big-budget blockbusters, check out Fandor for both the iOS and Android. 

VEVO

Since MTV no longer actually plays music videos, you can turn to VEVO for videos from your favorite artists. The free app is available for both iOS and Android, and even features several exclusives from top entertainers.

Dayframe

Moving past streaming video, your Chromecast can also turn your TV into a digital picture frame with Dayframe. The iOS and Android app can pull from photo services like Flickr, Dropbox, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, and more to display pictures on your TV as a slideshow or stick with a theme you create.

Pandora

And if it's music you're after, it's music you'll get with Pandora's own Chromecast app for both the iOS and Android. You can arrange your favorite streaming radio stations by artist, genre, or whatever else you're in the mood for that day. The service is free but does charge a subscription to bump the audio quality up to 192kbps and remove ads.

This is only a small sample of the dozens of Chromecast apps available, so be sure to check out the full list to find more to make your Chromecast experience the best it can be.