Hulu, Netflix, YouTube Red, Pandora, and other music and video streaming services are a good source of entertainment content. And these services can be easily accessed, thanks to Internet-connected TVs that can stream content without the need for other devices. But what about people who have older TV models or non-smart TVs?
The solution is simple: get either Airplay or Chromecast to stream these music and video on demand services.
Plus, with Airplay or Chromecast, you can create other content that may not be available or cannot be accessed anywhere else. For instance, you have photos from a memorable vacation that you want to show your family and friends, or perhaps an awesome video of your baby’s first steps that you want to share with Grandma and Grandpa. For your own created content, you can use Chromecast or Airplay to play them on your TV, directly from your phone.
But which between these two services is better?
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In 2017, Airplay received renewed interest after Apple announced Airplay 2, which would be available with the release of iOS 11.
AirPlay was first launched around eight years ago to allow users to stream content to Apple TV. It evolved to include other supported devices and appliances. The idea was to make it easier to stream music to your TV or music appliance in a reliable manner. The latest Airplay 2 even allows you to stream music to different rooms around the house as long as they have a compatible speaker.
More than just streaming music, Airplay is also able to stream videos and photos, as well as mirror your iOS device screen to a high-definition television without needing cables.
What do you need to use Airplay?
In order to stream movies, videos, music, and other content using Airplay, you would need to have an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or any computer that has iTunes 10.2 or a new version. All of these should have iOS 4.2 or later operating system versions. If you want to use Airplay 2, you would need to have the iOS 11.2 or later.
Apart from this, you would need to have Apple TV or AirPort Express and other compatible consoles and speakers that support Airplay. If you have an Android device and you would want to stream content from your phone or tablet to your TV, you would need to have AirTwist, which is offered by DoubleTwist.
If Airplay is a feature included in your iOS device, Chromecast, on the other hand, is a separate device that can stream videos to your TV. Airplay comes free with your iOS device, but Chromecast is still affordable.
With Chromecast, you can stream entertainment content to your television. You just plug it into the HDMI port and then start streaming. The good news is that you can continue to use your device while you are watching what’s being streamed on your TV. The video does not get interrupted because your mobile device only acts as the remote. This also means that your device’s battery is not constantly used.
Chromecast also works with the mobile apps that you are currently using. This means that you do not have to add another mobile app to your phone. For example, if you are currently using Netflix, you can just use the official Netflix app and stream Netflix content to your TV using Chromecast.
Further, Chromecast currently works with several video and music services, including Hulu, Netflix, Youtube, Pandora, HBO Go, Hulu, Google Play and WatchESPN. That means a content library of 200,000 movies TV shows and counting, plus at least 30 million songs.
Chromecast can also mirror any Website, as long as you open the site on a Chrome browser. You can also mirror your Android screen on your TV. Chromecast also has an Ultra version for 4k resolutions.
What do you need for Google Chromecast?
To get the most out of Chromecast, you would need to have an HDTV with a usable HDMI port, a good Wi-Fi connection, a mobile device or a computer.
To power your Chromecast, you would need to use the included USB cable or power adapter. If you have an extra USB port on your TV, you can use that to power the Chromecast stick. Or you can just plug power adapted into an available wall socket.
Comparing Chromecast and Airplay
Both Chromecast and Airplay can turn your TV into a picture frame, allowing you to display a photo from your phone on a bigger screen. Both can also mirror your device screen. And both can stream videos, photos, and music.
While Chromecast and Airplay work similarly and achieve the same results, there are areas that Chromecast is better at, and there are things that Airplay does better.
Where Chromecast wins
- Costs. Airplay might be free, but you would need to buy a compatible speaker or an Apple TV to stream your music and videos. Depending on what Apple TV device you choose, you can expect to spend a bit for a 32 GB Apple TV to a little higher for 64 GB Apple TV 4k. On the other hand, Chromecast sells less than a quarter of Apple TV’s price.
- Works with Android and iOS devices. Even if it comes from Google, Chromecast works with iOS devices, including iPhones, Macs, and tablets. And, of course, it works with Chromebook, Android tablets, and phones as well. Airplay works natively only with iOS devices.
- Small size. You can bring Chromecast everywhere you go because of its small size. If you are spending a weekend in a hotel, for example, you can just pop in your Chromecast and continue to enjoy your TV shows.
- Easy on your batteries. Airplay streams content from your device over your Wi-Fi network and into the Apple TV or any other Apple device. Chromecast pulls the content from your device. Chromecast takes care of the playback, downloading, and showing it on the receiving device. Your phone or tablet is not using any resources: it is not taking up processing power, and it is not eating up your battery charge. But you can still pause the playback, turn up the volume, and be able to control everything using your mobile device.
- Mirroring. Airplay has always been king when it comes to full screen mirroring, or when you need to show the entire screen from one device on your TV. Airplay was able to do it first, and it did a great job at mirroring. Chromecast, which first included mirroring in 2014, has been catching up fast. But if you are using a Mac and would like to cast the entire screen, Chromecast is rather limited. However, the bigger concern is that Chromecast is the only option if you are using Android devices.
Where Airplay wins
- Room-to-room streaming. With Airplay 2 and its room-to-room streaming feature, you do not have to experience interruptions when you listen to music. For instance, if you are the type who walks around the house a lot and you have Airplay compatible speakers, you can go from the bedroom to the living room and the music will be uninterrupted.
- Your smartphone is not needed. When you use Airplay, you do not need to have your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to use your Apple TV. Apple TV comes with its own remote control, so there is no problem if you do not have your device with you. However, you can easily stream content using Airplay in two taps. With Airplay and Apple TV, you get a streaming solution and a set-top box. Chromecast only handles streaming and there is no set-top boxes and no traditional remotes.
- Traveling. With Chromecast’s small size, it is very portable. But if your hotel room has a captive portal or one that requires you to log in via a special page in a browser, then you are out of luck. With Airplay and Apple TV, there are hacks and workarounds that you can employ. For one, you can ask the hotel to add your MAC address to their whitelist and you can use Airplay and Apple TV in your hotel room.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!