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Chromecast started life with a limited number of apps able to take advantage of Google’s slim stick. However now we are well into the lifespan of the second generation Chromecast, with a third-gen model likely, there’s an increasing number of apps that can take advantage of it. We check out some of the best.
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While the app is free, the subscription for HD or family users can soon add up, so get the most for your monthly fee by streaming to the big screen. Netflix’s content volume may be coming down, but the number of exclusive and self-produced shows is on the rise and will continue to grow as this drives new sales and keeps people subscribing.
YouTube is breaking out into many new directions with a YouTube Kids app that keeps things family friendly. There’s also a YouTube Gaming app so gamers can see long plays, live streams, big gaming news and other related events all within the one place. These apps are all Chromecast friendly and one or all of them should be on your phone or tablet.
While Netflix and other services have plenty of anime, Crunchyroll is the service that has pretty much all of it, including straight from Japan shows years before the networks have even heard of them. With Japanese gaming based on anime on the rise in the West, a free membership gets you limited shows in SD, while a paid sub ups the quality to HD with shows streamed just hours after the premiere in Japan.
This Android-only app is a great way to get the content from your phone apps up on the screen. Say you need to watch a tweet stream, sports ticker, stock price or other data, but don’t want to be squinting at your small screen? Cast it your HD TV and you can keep an eye on things in comfort. The app is free and you can arrange content how you like to get the essential data off your phone.
Beaches on TV
Feel the need to chill out and relax, how about putting a great beach scene on your TV to hide the fact you’re trapped in the urban jungle. These moving scenes with audio should help you feel a little better and the app is free, although you can choose to pay for more beaches if you become a TV-based scenery addict. Other examples include Aquariums on TV, Fireplaces on TV and likely much more.
With the baseball season well underway, you’ll be delighted to know that the official app with all the games can happily stream to your TV for those times when blackout restrictions apply. Outside the US, users can watch as much baseball as they like with multiple games on the screen at once, as the action unfolds across each day. Content streaming from he NBA app is only playable for non-US users while the NFL Sunday Ticket can be played anywhere, with local blackouts in effect.
If you have lots of content stored on a PC, local network drive or other storage, then you’ll need an app like Plex to help sling the content to your Chromecast stick. Based on the famous XBMC app code, Plex provides a great way to get any type of content along with data from services like IMDB to your big screen from whatever storage you have at home.
Google Play Movies and TV
The key Google content apps work happily with Chromecast, providing both films and shows to bounce around between small and big screen as you need. Naturally, you need to rent or buy the appropriate shows, but in the smart home and digital age, paying for stuff you are very familiar with or fond of is all part of the game.
With the new Chromecast version, you can stream audio to your stereo, so it makes sense for apps like Spotify to be Chromecast compatible. However, if you have your TV hooked up to a decent set of speakers, then you can also send your choice of music through the screen. PLenty of audio apps from Voice of America to Soundcloud also have this feature, so you don’t need to miss out on the latest radio, mixes of podcasts.
Games on Chromecast
There aren’t actually that many games that will play on a Chromecast, but a few lucky big name titles and a host of small indie projects will transfer to the big screen. One of the biggest names of all is Angry Birds Friends which happily allows you to continue your avian-throwing exploits. Checkers, Connect Four and a few other simpler titles are also compatible, but some like Wheel of Fortune and Scrabble are there if you want a bit more of a challenge.
Let us know what essential apps you use with your Chromecast, and what apps you would like to see add compatibility.
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!