Your Chromecast, small as it is, can do a lot thanks to a plethora of available apps. Play games with your friends in the living room, compete in dance competitions against people around the world, stream your latest vacation pictures to your big-screen, and keep up with the latest and greatest TV and music. There are a ton of apps to use with Chromecast in the Play Store; here are the best for whatever you're looking to do.
- Apps to get started
- Streaming services
- Media servers and advanced streaming
- Music and video streaming
Just getting started
Regardless of what device or service you sign up for, there's a jumping-off point. Whether it's to get your Chromecast set up, or just a super-basic app that everyone should have, you'll need to get started. These are a few apps that we suggest, and one that you definitely need.
- Start here: Google Home
- Chromecast app index: Apps for Chromecast
- The perfect screensaver: Clocks on Chromecast
- Tried and true: Netflix
- The exciting newcomer: Disney+
- Get live TV: Hulu
- Premium content: HBO Max
- Where gamers go: Twitch
- All of the Anime: Crunchyroll
- All-in-one solution: Plex
- Multi-purpose streaming: Cast TV
- Change the audio: Local Cast
Start here: Google Home
Before you can even really enjoy a Chromecast, you'll need to get it set up. In order to do so, plug in the device, fire up the Google Home app, and get everything connected. Then, you can keep coming back to the Home app to control your Chromecasts.
Chromecast app index: Apps for Chromecast
Google doesn't do a great job making it easy to find Chromecast-compatible apps on the Play Store. However, with Apps for Chromecast, you can browse through the list and see editorial picks, tips and tricks, and just scroll through to look for new and useful apps to try.
The perfect screensaver: Clocks on Chromecast
Why can't we have a screensaver for our televisions? Some options do, but with Clocks on Chromecast, you can start this up and get a clock working as a screensaver in no time. There are also plenty of different clocks to choose from to fit the design aesthetic of your room.
Streaming services are taking over the world, one day at a time, and more services are coming out of the woodworks on a regular basis, with newcomers attempting to challenge Netflix's reign of dominance. Here's a few different options you should consider using with your Chromecast.
Tried and true: Netflix
Streaming services have been around for a while, and Netflix seems to still be king, for now. Despite more shows being taken off due to expiring agreements, Netflix has continued to churn out new and original content. Netflix is still a must have in the streaming era.
The exciting newcomer: Disney+
Perhaps the most exciting new streaming service has started off with a bang. Disney+ is taking the world by storm, giving everyone access to new content, along with the entire catalog of "old" Disney classics.
Get live TV: Hulu
Hulu has been working on providing more original content, but the real benefit comes via the personalized library. You can get access to premium networks, along with live TV so you can keep up with all your stories.
Premium content: HBO Max
HBO Now has been rebranded as HBO Max, which is the company's latest streaming service. With this, you'll be able to have up to five different profiles, the ability to download your favorites for offline viewing, and hand-picked curation when you've finished up your Watch List. Watch stuff from HBO as well as Crunchyroll, Adult Swim, and more.
Where gamers go: Twitch
Twitch is the obvious choice for those who want to watch video games streams and more. If you want to get started yourself, the app makes it easy to do so. Just sit on the couch, fire up your Chromecast, and watch some video game streams whenever.
All of the Anime: Crunchyroll
Crunchyroll has the largest anime collection for streaming, with new episodes premiering an hour after they air in Japan. You can personalize your watchlist, and after downloading, you can try Crunchyroll Premium for free for two weeks.
Next level content consumption
It's one thing to have a streaming service curate content, but what are you supposed to do if you already have a library of your own? Well, these apps will help you manage and enjoy that content on your television with a Chromecast.
All-in-one solution: Plex
Plex is great if you want to stream content from your home network server, but there's so much more you can do. With Plex Pass, you can stream live TV and DVR content, and get easy access to TIDAL music streaming. You can also customize the app to show your favorite categories and sections for quick access.
Multi-purpose streaming: Cast TV
If you have a video you want to stream from your device to the Chromecast that isn't normally supported, you'll want an app like Cast TV. This app makes it possible for you to stream photos, music, and videos from your Android device to your Chromecast. Plus it works with other devices like the Xbox One, Roku, and more.
Change the audio: Local Cast
Local Cast does exactly what you think it would and helps you stream content from your local device to a Chromecast. This works with Google Cast, Roku, and even Apple TV, but the big benefit is that you can route the audio from your TV to Bluetooth headphones connected to your smartphone or tablet.
Your content: Files by Google
Late last year, Google updated its Files app with support for Chromecast streaming. This is just another great way to cast your various pieces of media from your smartphone or tablet to your television.
Anything and everything: BubbleUPnP
BubbleUPnP separates itself from a lot of Cast-enabled apps thanks to the compatibility that it offers. Any device with a Chromecast built-in will work, along with Smart TVs, Xbox, PlayStation, and even Amazon devices. It will also help you set up a local server if that's something you would like to have in order to keep those family videos in the home.
Create your own server: Jellyfin
Jellyfin is a newcomer to the whole "home server" scene but it's open source and free. The app touts that there are no hidden fees and no tracking of your content. All you'll need to do is get your own "Jellyfin" server set up and then you can use the app to stream away.
Watch, listen, do whatever
This next group of apps is for those who just want to listen to music, podcasts, or just want to sit back and get lost. You can download a lot of apps, from Spotify to YouTube, and everywhere in between to satisfy many of your Chromecast streaming needs.
Music streaming king: Spotify
Spotify continues to be a fan favorite thanks to its personalized and generated playlists. Having a party with Spotify on is perfect for a great night. Plus, it's easy to cast from your phone to the Chromecast.
The podcast hub: Pocket Casts
With Pocket Casts, you have cross-platform compatibility and can access your podcasts from anywhere. With the Android app, you can cast your podcast directly to the TV so that you can leave it on while doing some housework.
Lose some hours: YouTube
What more can we really say about YouTube, other than it being the jumping off point for wasting hours? Start down a rabbit hole and come out on the other side wondering what just happened.
Up and coming: YouTube Music
YouTube Music is slowly becoming what we expected from Google Play Music. Plus, if you sign up for YouTube Red, you'll get Music Premium included, giving you offline access and an ad-free experience.
Old school radio: iHeartRadio
Podcasts aren't for everyone; some folks enjoy listening to their favorite radio shows. With an app like iHeartRadio, you can cast your favorite radio station to your TV and never miss out on news updates your favorite talk shows.
A huge picture frame: Google Photos
Casting from Google Photos will turn your television into a humongous picture frame. Obviously, this works with videos too, but being able to have an album of your favorite pictures act as a screensaver is something that can't be understated.
Many apps work, not all of them are great
More and more applications have seen updates to support the ability to work with Chromecasts. Some of these are simply controllers for the content, while others seem to be like a dedicated Chromecast app.
However, while going through and testing out new apps to use, you may come across some duds. Whether it's because they haven't been updated, or they won't work with these new smartphones, you'll need to sift through the weeds to find the "best" apps for your wants and needs.