By Max Parker
If you're the lucky owner of Google's smart TV dongle and are looking for the best Chromecast apps, you're in luck. We've rounded up the best apps to turn your gogglebox into an all-singing smart TV, with the likes of Netflix and Google Play offering the latest digital entertainment.
Google's Chromecast turns your TV into a internet-connected smart TV, and is still one of the cheapest ways to give your dumb TV a new lease of life. The service has now a tonne of apps and third party devs can create their own, expading the service even more. Chromecast apps are an addition to the Android or iOS versions, so you don't need to install anything separate on the dongle itself.
The little device allows users to stream films, TV, music, pictures and local files direct to their TV screens wirelessly. This is all thanks to a number of apps including Youtube, Netflix and Google's own streaming services to name just a few and Google say the list of apps will continue to grow.
Chromecast takes the hassle out of playing media on the TV, say goodbye to unpractical HDMI cables trailing across the room and say hello to the easy way to view your favourite media. We have a run-down of 10 of the coolest apps on the Google play store, to get the most out of the Chromecast.
Additional reporting by Sam Pegg
Perfect those who are looking to ditch their TV subscription and go completely cord-free. Watch over a 100 handpicked TV channels, completely free on any device and then Chromecast it to the big screen.
There are various 'platforms' (or channels) avalable, like News, Sports, Music, Comedy plus Pluto has a few exclusive channels. These comprise of Fails, Classic Cartoons and Cats 24/7, now that's a selection.
The combination of viral sensations and TV channels mashed together, bridges online and TV platforms in a nifty manner, but we doubt the BBC will be getting worried quite yet.
Chromecasting, though, works fantastically. Choose what you want to watch - Cats 24/7, obviously - and the it'll beam the content right to your telly. It's quick, buffering is kept to a minimum and the video quality is pretty good. The layout and UI is impressive too. It looks like any other EPG, so picking channels is easy and it's clear to see what's on. A thumbs-up from us.
Free | Download Pluto TV
This app has really come into its own since Chromecast support was added. Originally you had to follow the workouts from your phone or tablet, but now you can beam them to the big screen and turn your lounge into a mini gym. The neighbours/flat below are going to love you.
DailyBurn is a pretty jam packed fitness app, with 14 separate workout programmes performed by actual, real-life professionals. Those workouts boast more than 100 individual workouts, all in HD quality and there's something for all abilities. From gym-newbie to seasoned masters. They can also be stored offline, accesible anywhere. Which is a neat feature.
There's more to the app than just videos though. Your performance in each workout is tracked, so you can keep an eye on how well you're doing and then compare it to previous attempts. Everything you do will be kept, giving you a thorough workout history on a weekly basis.
The interface, which has just got a fresh redesign, is slick and quick. Videos load up in a snap - this will depend upon your internet connection - and look crispy. You can really see the muscles bulge. While it's free to initially download, you will need to stump on some cash if you want to unlock all the tutorials. Still, it's cheaper than joining a gym.
Free | Download Daily Burn
It's like those celebrity diet DVDs, but withouts the Z-list celebs and
If you have BT Broadband you can enjoy BT Sport free, but usually getting the content on a big telly would require hooking up your laptop to a TV using HDMI. Now, however, the BT Sport Chromecast support makes that a thing of the past.
Free | Download
Videostream Chromecast: Remote
An alternative to Plex is Videostream Chromecast: Remote, a free remote control app that works with the Videostream Chrome extension so you can play local multimedia content wirelessly. There's no need to pay for the app and, usefully, there's no need to setup a Plex media server, which the less tech-savvy will appreciate.
Yet another app worthy of any sports fan. BBC Sport will let you enjoy a love of all things active in the living room. Whether that's live radio or checking out all the latest sporting updates.
Free | Download
We've been big fans of Pocket Casts for a while now – a podcasting app that's a joy to use and is packed with countless added features, so the news that Chromecast support has been added certainly got us excited. It works as you'd expect, quickly casting either audio or video slices of entertainment to your tele, in a matter of taps.
Price: £2.49 | Download Pocket Casts
While loads of these apps are Android only, PixoCast gives some love towards to the iOS Chromecast fans. Thanks to some auto-transcoding tech, you can send 1080p video, recorded from your phone, direct to the TV, without suffering any playback lag.
Price: £1.49 | Download PixoCast
An app that hardly needs an introduction, but it's great to know that the BBC has been quick out of the blocks to add Chromecast support to its Android and iOS apps. Beam the latest episode of Line of Duty straight from your phone to your TV in possibly the simplest way possible.
Free | Download BBC iPlayer
One of the many photo beaming apps that has become available since Chromecast's release, we'd probably go as far as saying Dayframe is the most fully featured. Input your Instagram details (or not, you don't have to), choose a few favourite subjects, like tech and art, and it'll bring a load of snaps together in one place. As you'd expect, Chromecast support lets you beam all this straight to your tele.
Free (IAP available) | Download Dayframe
A must download for any new Chromecast user, AllCast streams music, videos and photos stored on your device to your TV – simple as that. Load up some entertainment on your phone, settle down and beam it to your tele, night sorted. The app also supports loads of others streamers, like the Xbox 360 and Roku.
Price: £3 | Download AllCast
Gaming streaming to Chromecast is still very much in its infancy, but developers are already beginning to see how far the useful little dongle can go. The super simple game of TicTacToe, better known here as noughts and crosses, seems as good starting point as any and its move to Chromecast brings a nice version of the game to the TV. iOS people can also join in the fun with a compatible app.
Ditch those old-fashioned music channels that never play the songs you really want and replace them with the new king of online music videos, Vevo. Thanks to added Chromecast support, you can now create your own stream of hand-picked videos and play them on the big-screen.
Free | Download Vevo
Movie streaming service Netflix has added Chromecast support for its app, which means that anyone with a subscription can now play their favourite movies and TV shows on their TV. A nice touch for the app is that you can use your chosen device as a remote to pause, rewind, fast-forward and even change the volume of your media.
Free app, subscription required | Netflix app
Plex app for Chromecast
Plex is a media management app with Chromecast compatibility, which enables you to control media from all of your Android devices and stream to your TV. One of the added bonuses is that Plex is compatible with sites such as Vimeo and YouTube, allowing you to queue videos to watch later on with any device. You also get a sleek interface that is easy to navigate and find exactly what you're looking for.
Free app, premium features available | Plex
Avia media management
Avia is a handy app to stream all our media files from several devices to your TV using Chromecast. Files such as pictures and videos can be streamed to a TV from an Android smartphone, tablet or even from cloud storage spaces like Dropbox. Avia allows you to manage all of your files in one place and doesn't restrict your phones activity, allowing you to stream media in the background. The app does require a small in-app purchase but is worth the fee merely for its multi-platform accessibility.
Small in-app purchase required | Avia
Red Bull – unsurprisingly – has recently launched its own specialist TV channel which is available via Chromecast. The content available is mainly sports shows and behind the scenes footage at Red Bull events. You can also view a calendar of live sporting events throughout the year which then allows you unlimited real time access to these live events.
Free app | Redbull.TV
Youtube app with Chromecast support
The YouTube app is another must-have for Chromecast users, with cool features and a slick interface. The app allows you to stream as many videos as you like on to the big screen in your house without a smart TV or HDMI cable. If you're having a party, the app comes into its own, enabling anyone connected to the Wi-Fi to add videos to the queue, so videos of cats can be shared easier than ever.
Free | Youtube
In a new addition to the content available to Chromecast users Songza has recently released a compatible app to stream music playlists designed by experts suited to your mood. This is the easy way for anyone who doesn't want to have to sit and queue up a playlist, you can simply set a mood and enjoy. This is an ideal app for party playlists and really adds value to the music options available to Chromecast users.
Free | Songza
Google TV and Movies
Chromecast allows users to watch thousands of TV shows and movies through the TV using Google's own video streaming service. Users are able to either purchase or rent movies through the Google Play store and then watch them on their TV even when not connected to the internet. The Google Play store offers an extensive range of movies and TV shows at reasonable prices making it a good value app for most movie lovers who would rather not trawl around a shop to search for their favourite films.
Free app, subscription required | Google TV and Movies
It's not just Movies and TV that's great for Chromecast. You can play music purchased on the Google Play store on our TV via the Google Music app. The app allows subscribers to stream their playlists over their home cinema system. The app is currently only compatible with Android phones or tablets but look out for expansion in 2014.
Free app, subscription required | Google music App
Googlecast browser extension
So it's not a true Chromecast app, but this extension is still worth a look. The Googlecast tab extension for Chromecast enables you to send your browsing to the big screen. It's perfect for catch-up services like BBC iplayer and 4OD, as well as showing off your snaps on Facebook or doing presentations.
Free | Googlecast extension
Google is still holding back on the compatibility of third party developer apps, but when they finally give the go-ahead for this to happen there is a whole range of developers queuing up to make the most of the dongle. Vbukit is one of those with a lot to offer to the Chromecast, with one of the features being the ability to display Business documents direct to the TV. This is a feature which could make displaying spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations easier than ever. Vbukit also allows for the streaming of social media feeds from multiple devices and the capability to open local files from cloud sites like Dropbox and Google Drive.
Beta only at the moment | TBC