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The Chromecast really is a fun little device, but it can take a bit of tinkering to get the most out of it. We’ve got you covered on how to make your Chromecast a smart media center How To Make Chromecast Your Smart Media Centre How To Make Chromecast Your Smart Media Centre At just $18, the Chromecast is an unmistakably great way to make your TV "smart", but it can feel a bit of a one-trick pony once the initial euphoria wears off. Read More , as well as advice on creative ways to use your Chromecast 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast 8 Creative Uses for Google's Chromecast We've come up with 8 unique uses for Google's Chromecast. Read on to find out just how you can make even more use of your Chromecast. Read More , but now let’s look at some of the best new apps, tips, and tricks for the streaming stick.

Apps are adding support for the Chromecast constantly, so if an application you enjoy doesn’t have Chromecast capabilities yet, keep checking back. Until then, read on to learn how to get the most out of your Chromecast with what is available today.

Changing Your Background

Our first trick is a small feature Google added to the Chromecast just a few months ago called Backdrop. When your Chromecast is set up and not yet streaming anything, it typically shows random photos of landscapes and things along with the time and the name of your Chromecast, as seen below.

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Sure, it’s nice, but it’s also pretty boring — and your Chromecast can do a lot more than that. To activate Backdrop, download the Chromecast app for your phone, swipe in from the left, and tap Backdrop. It will ask you which Chromecast you want to connect to, as well as what kind of information you’d like to show.

You can change this at any time by tapping the gear icon in the top right of the Backdrop page.

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If you select Your Photos, it will allow you to select which albums from your Google+ Photos to display. For some reason, photos that you’ve set to Auto-Backup 5 Tools To Sync & Auto-Upload Photos From Android To Cloud Storage 5 Tools To Sync & Auto-Upload Photos From Android To Cloud Storage Nothing is more convenient than taking a photo on your phone and automatically having it be backed up to the cloud. Read More  (which is actually one of the coolest features of Google+ It's Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today It's Not Really Dead: 7 Reasons To Start Using Google+ Today I wake up in the morning, and check what's new on Google+. Yes, really. Google is putting a lot of brawn and brains behind the social network everyone loves to hate, and it shows. Read More ) aren’t available here, despite being available online at Google+ Photos.

You can use your Auto-Backup photos by going to Google+ and adding selected photos from that album to custom photo albums. Then set backdrop to include your new photo albums. However, it does automatically show all photos from your Google Drive, which for most people is probably where they’re more likely to store photos anyway.

You can also choose to show the weather in your current location, works of art, news and lifestyle photos (which link to articles or images as shown below), satellite images, and featured photos (which seem to be what your Chromecast shows when Backdrop is off).

backdrop-1

Choose any mixture of these, and they will be randomized. So if you only want your photos to show up, turn off all the rest — except for weather, which only shows in the lower corner and doesn’t take up the whole screen.

Below, you can see a customized screen and what it displays on the Backdrop tab of the Chromecast app while it’s displaying that.

backdrop-2

But all of this is just for when your Chromecast is idling. What about when you really get down to using it? Let’s look at some killer apps for your device.

Finding Chromecast Apps

A lot of people struggle to find Chromecast-ready apps since the Play Store lacks a clear Chromecast section, but Google does actually have an official webpage for this. Visit chromecast.com/apps to find a searchable way of browsing Chromecast-ready apps. You can even sort by category, and clicking on an app gives you links to both its iOS and Android versions.

chromecast-apps-website

For only Android apps, the Play Store actually does have a Google Cast section, but it’s pretty hard to find. An easier way to get to it is to open the Chromecast app, swipe in from the left, and select Discover Apps.

chromecast-discover-apps-1

Some apps, like Cast Store for Chromecast Apps, try to give you a nice interface to go through, but they’re generally low-quality and stuffed to the brim with ads. This app in particular would consistently open itself when I wasn’t using it, leading me to uninstall it within minutes. Just stick to the official Google route, app-hunters.

Or you could read on for the best of the apps out there.

Streaming Different Kinds of Media

New apps are cropping up every day, but here are some of the best out there right now for a variety of purposes.

Local Media

Plex is the obvious contender here. It’s great for streaming media from your computer, but not so great for streaming files stored on your phone or tablet. Learn how to set up Plex How To Make Chromecast Your Smart Media Centre How To Make Chromecast Your Smart Media Centre At just $18, the Chromecast is an unmistakably great way to make your TV "smart", but it can feel a bit of a one-trick pony once the initial euphoria wears off. Read More  for Chromecast if you’re interested, then snag the Android or iOS app.

Media Browser is Plex’s biggest competitor and works largely in the same way, requiring your computer, phone, and Chromecast to all work together. It takes a bit of setup, but they have nice Android and iOS apps that make the setup worth it.

What about streaming photos and videos that are stored on your phone or tablet? For instance, if you wanted to show off photos or videos you took earlier in the day.

On iPhone or iPad, your best bet is Cinch. It allows you to easily stream local photos, videos, or music from your device to your TV. It’s $1.99, but for such a useful app, that’s not too much to ask.

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On the other hand, LocalCast is a great, Material Design-themed app Craving Some Material Design? Download These Great Android Apps Craving Some Material Design? Download These Great Android Apps Android 5.0 Lollipop is here, but to get the full effect, you need apps that stay true to the Material Design philosophy. We can help you find the best of them. Read More for streaming anything stored on your Android device (shown above). It’s free and supported by unobtrusive ads, but you can help out the developer by removing ads via an in-app purchase. The prices range from $3.49 to $9.56, but all of them remove ads and add two features: on device search and preview while seeking videos.

AllCast, by the folks over at ClockWork Mod, is another good alternative for Android users. It’s free, but it has a 5-minute viewing limit that can be removed by purchasing the $4.99 premium version.

For photos alone, Photowall is a unique way of having multiple people stream their photos Google Launches Photowall For Chromecast To Share Images On TV Google Launches Photowall For Chromecast To Share Images On TV A bunch of Googlers have developed a new Chromecast app called Photowall which lets many phones transfer images at the same time to a Chromecast-equipped TV, for collaborative photo viewing. Read More from iOS or Android to your Chromecast.

Videos, Movies, and TV Shows

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HBO has had their Chromecast streaming set up for a while now through their HBO GO app (Android, iOS), but Showtime has just recently updated their Showtime Anytime app (Android, iOS) with Chromecast streaming as well. My personal favorite new addition to the Chromecast-ready lineup, however, is the Comedy Central app (Android, iOS). And to cap off your TV watching, check out the ABC app (Android, iOS).

For the younger generations, the Nick app (Android, iOS), Disney Channel app (Android, iOS), and Sesame Street Go app (Android, iOS) have received Chromecast-ready updates.

A while back, a bunch of Sports-related streaming video apps Google Chromecast Goes Sports Crazy Adding WatchESPN, MLS, And More Google Chromecast Goes Sports Crazy Adding WatchESPN, MLS, And More Chromecast just added applications for watching your favorite sports, but there is also a new feature for those who like to use Google+ to share their photos with friends and loved ones. Read More got Chromecast support around the same time including WatchESPN (Android, iOS) and MLS (Android). Since then, even more apps have been bumped up, including the MLB app (Android) and UFC app (Android, iOS).

Of course there are your big-name apps that you would expect to support the Chromecast like Netflix (Android, iOS) and Hulu Plus (Android, iOS), but there are also several other smaller apps that haven’t skimped on Chromecast support. For free and popular anime Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap) Legal Anime Exists: 4 Websites Where You Can Watch Anime For Free (Or Cheap) Looking to watch more anime, but not sure where to find it online? Look no further. These four websites make anime more accessible to the general public than ever before. Read More , check out Crunchyroll (Android, iOS); for Asian and Latin dramas, check out DramaFever (Android, iOS); and for a surprising number of free movies and TV shows Crackle: An App For Free Movies & TV Shows (And It's Completely Legal) Crackle: An App For Free Movies & TV Shows (And It's Completely Legal) The iPhone – as small as it is – can be a great platform for watching video on the go or while out of the house. However, most videos available for the little device are... Read More , check out Crackle (Android, iOS).

Music and Radio

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You may not think of the Chromecast as a music device, but your TV’s speakers are probably a lot better than your phone. When you’re relaxing around the house, why not use your Chromecast to play music from your TV?

Shuttle+ Music Player, one of our favorite music apps Shuttle Player: The Robust and Feature-Complete Music Experience [Android] Shuttle Player: The Robust and Feature-Complete Music Experience [Android] Finding that one perfect music player can be tough. Finding one that's free? Nearly impossible. Rocket Player has been my near-perfect choice for the past few months, but I recently found a successor: Shuttle Player.... Read More , now has Chromecast support (Android). For real radio stations of all kinds, try TuneIn Radio (Android, iOS). Pandora is obviously a fantastic option for free, personalized music (Android, iOS). And finally, if you want lyrics to your songs, Musixmatch is a must-have app that will stream the lyrics right to your TV (Android, iOS).

Unfortunately, Spotify looks like it will never receive Chromecast support. Instead, they’ll be pushing for their own proprietary technology called Spotify Connect that requires a compatible TV or speakers. Yikes. If you prefer the Chromecast route, however, there is an unofficial app for doing so called Spoticast (Android).

Playing Games

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Surprisingly, the Chromecast has turned out to be a pretty cool device for casual gaming. The newest additions to the gaming party are the Wheel of Fortune (Android, iOS), Monopoly Dash (Android, iOS), and Emoji Party (Android). All of them take advantage of the TV screen in unique ways, allowing for a type of game where everyone sees a different screen on their own device, but the same TV screen. Even a simple game like Emoji Party (seen above) becomes extremely fun this way.

And for more fun with friends, you should definitely check out SIMON Swipe (Android, iOS) and SCRABBLE Blitz (Android, iOS), two games that both not only have their first word unnecessarily capitalized, but also are super fun to play with friends. Seriously, give gaming on the Chromecast a shot and you won’t regret it.

Getting Work Done?

That’s right. It is possible to use the Chromecast for work. Polaris Office now supports casting documents, spreadsheets, and presentations (Android, iOS). This is something that may not be useful to everyone, but for students or anyone who wants to practice their presentation on a big screen, it could be immensely helpful.

What Are Your Favorite Chromecast Apps?

The Chromecast is a fun little device, but it’s the apps that really make it what it is. With so many out there and so many getting support everyday, it’s clear that this isn’t a comprehensive list — just some of our favorites.

What are your favorites? What Chromecast-ready apps do you use everyday? Any other tips and tricks you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Cast-a-Draw
    January 30, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    We made a Pictionary Chromecast game called Cast-a-Draw

    Fun for all, but crafted to be kid-friendly and kid-safe. You can find it at castadraw.com

  2. daniel
    December 11, 2015 at 11:52 am

    there is a new app i use for android that transcodes the files on the fly on the phone and can stream avi, mkv, 3gp and any other file to Chromecast, its called Megacast..it's great for casting local videos

  3. ben
    April 5, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Popcorn time and mrc live stream player

  4. Arney
    March 2, 2015 at 12:14 am

    No need for those cheap Video streaming apps if you own a Chromecast. Simply go to chrome://flags in your Chrome browser (ANY device) and Enable the Disable Chromecast Media Streaming. Thats it!!! I've been streaming videos from EVERY site since Chromecast came out.

    • Ahren Widman
      May 30, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Like anyone would fall for that

    • Trevor Rose
      October 3, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      Why do you think that we would fall for that? Why would we enable the feature "DISABLE Chromecast Media Streaming?

  5. Arsalan
    February 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    best post

    • Bill Gates
      January 16, 2016 at 7:52 am

      Ok dont do it then you idiots. It works but since you fools arent willing to try it guess youll never know. Why do u think Chrome flags offers the ability to enable & disable experimental features?!

  6. likefunbutnot
    February 9, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    The only part of the Chromecast's feature set that I actually care about is its Screen Mirroring capability. Miracast is a pain in the ass to get working with Windows (especially prior to Windows 8), but Chrome Desktop mirroring is fairly straightforward.

    Other than that, a Chromecast is just a Plex client with a kind of crummy control scheme, as far as I'm concerned.

    • Justin Dennis
      February 17, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      yeah, pretty much. screen mirroring is really useful sometimes :D

  7. SpoonmanWoS
    February 9, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Localcast isn't just limited to local media files. I use it to stream from an SMB share as well as a DLNA server to my Chromecast. Works great, but the killer feature for me: the ability to route the audio to the phone. I can watch something on the TV, but pipe the audio through my headphones so as to not disturb the misses sitting next to me reading. It can be a little laggy, but the author provides a mechanism to play with the delay until it's in sync. Typically only takes a second or two and done.

    • Justin Dennis
      February 17, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      oh that's sounds really cool, my bad for not including it. thanks for the tip!

  8. Ken
    February 9, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    You have forgotten to include Videostream. It is an app but the best use is their Chrome-extension. It allows you to play anything from your PC/laptop.

    • Justin Dennis
      February 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      sweeeeet, thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Jay
    February 9, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    The best for ANY streaming local media be it on your mobile, PC or network drive is ES File Explorer File Manager. It just works... and works great, all you have to do is log into your device using it.

    • Justin Dennis
      February 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      awesome, thanks for the recommendation!

  10. Jzam
    February 9, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Did you leave out Just Dance Now! on purpose. The only thing I do not like on this app is the subscription prices. Id rather just have a total fee for everything.

    • Justin Dennis
      February 17, 2015 at 10:32 pm

      I did try out Just Dance Now!, but I thought it was pretty disappointing so didn't end up including it. but I'm glad you're getting some good use out of it :) you're right, subscription is annoying, a total fee would be better

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