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Best Chromecast apps in 2018: The apps you need to download for Google’s dongle

Thomas McMullan
23 Apr 2018
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Got a Chromecast? These apps let you get the most from your streamer

Google's Chromecast dongle is a device that's brimming with potential. Priced at just £30 it's hardly surprising it's a popular device, and it makes for a sure fire way to upgrade your home entertainment offering in a jiffy. But while you can easily load up BBC iPlayer and Netflix, open a bag of popcorn and have a jolly old time, if you’re looking to push the capabilities of your streamer, you’ll want to expand your collection of apps. From film, TV music and audio apps to games, sports apps and even the odd document-editing tool, you’re only a quick download away from new worlds of entertainment.

Keep in mind that not iOS apps may not necessarily be compatible with Chromecast. App developers are starting to code Chormecast support into iOS apps; we'll only link to those iOS apps which we know for certain do offer Chromecast compatibility. 

We've hunted down the best apps and extensions so you can really get the most out of your Chromecast device, and have sorted them into handy categories below. If there’s anything we’ve missed out, feel free to let us know in the comments. 

Buy a Google Chromecast now from Currys

Best Film and TV Chromecast apps

Crunchyroll (free)

Crunchyroll is the go-to hub for all things Japanese and cartoony. There are thousands of hours-worth of anime shows and manga comics to get through, all of which are free. It’s also licensed, meaning it’s totally legal – there are no shady downloads or copyright infringements going on here! Pay for the Premium service to go ad-free and gain access to the very latest shows the second they finish airing on Japanese TV. Ten million anime-heads can’t be wrong, so get with the programme and cast all your favourite shows directly to your TV.

Crunchyroll on Google Play

Vudu

Vudu is a video rental store with a constantly updated roster of new and classic films to purchase for a couple of nights. Vudu has a fantastic range and, even better, many excellent films available to watch for free.You will need to use a VPN to get your hands on this one as it only caters to devices it thinks are based in the USA. That’s annoying, but it’s worth wriggling through the loophole to gain access to this excellent service. More recently, it has acquired a solid range of anime content, too. A final and thoughtful feature is support for UltraViolet uploads. This means you can use your film codes, gathered via DVD disc codes or online purchases, and upload them to UltraViolet via Vudu, where you can then cast them at any time.

Get Vudu now

Netflix

You’ve most likely already got Netflix installed. In fact, you probably bought a Chromecast for the specific purpose to watching Netflix on your TV. It remains an essential tool for modern entertainment, however, so we’ll include it on our list.

Netflix on Google Play | Netflix on iOS

iPlayer

Ditto to the above. If you’re based in the UK, and want a way to watch BBC shows and documentaries on your own schedule, iPlayer is a great tool to have in your TV streaming box.

iPlayer on Google Play 

TalkTalk TV

Formerly known as Blinkbox, TalkTalk TV now works with Chromecast. Unlike Netflix where you pay a flat fee, on TalkTalk TV you only pay for what you want to watch. You can rent and buy movies, with most films available to rent for less than £5. You can also rent whole TV series - so Game of Thrones is available to buy in HD for £22.99 or standard-def for £16.99.

The films and TV shows on offer give a good mix of what's available on Netflix and Sky, so most the big shows and releases are covered. TalkTalk TV also gets some releases before anyone else.

TalkTalk TV on Google Play 

BT Sport 

BT is the latest big-name broadcaster to jump on the Chromecast bandwagon by adding support to its BT Sport app for Android and iOS. A Chromecast button is now available in both apps, allowing anyone with BT broadband or a BT Sport subscription to enjoy live Premier League, FA Cup, European and world football as well as Aviva Premiership rugby union and MotoGP. From the app just tap the Chromecast button and what you want to watch will appear on your TV.

BT Sport on Google Play | BT Sport on iOS

Now TV 

Now TV is Sky's contract-free sports, film and on-demand TV service. For £4.99 you can get the Now TV Entertainment Month Pass, which includes streaming from ten top Sky channels including Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Fox and Discovery as well as TV boxsets and catch-up TV. Sky Sports day passes, with access to all Sky Sports channels, cost £6.99 per day and the Sky Movies package, which is currently available on a 30-day free trial, costs £8.99 a month. Download the app, register an account and use the Android or iOS app to watch via Chromecast.

Now TV on Google Play

Ratuken TV

Netflix and Amazon Instant Video may hog the headlines for best on-demand streaming services, but relative newcomer Ratuken TV (formerly Wuaki.TV) also has plenty of its own new releases, including Game of Thrones, Homeland, The Box Trolls and Boyhood which are available to rent, buy or stream. The subscription service costs £5.99 per month with the first month free, but just like Netflix, you can cancel your subscription at any time. Only a select number of films and TV are included in the subscription service, though, so you may have to buy or rent the very newest releases if you want to watch them sooner.

Ratuken TV on Google Play Ratuken TV on iOS

Best Chromecast games

RISK: Global Domination 

Another quality Chromecast-enabled game is RISK: Global Domination, a free-to-play app version of the famously competitive board game. Up to six players can cast their shadow across the world, building empires and defeating enemy armies. Again, this is an amazing use of the Chromecast’s abilities – everyone can just slouch around the living room and casually compete for total world domination in blissful comfort. Traditionalists will be pleased to know that the rules haven’t changed much, and those playing on their own can face off against the AI or take the campaign to an international scale with online multiplayer.

RISK: Global Domination on Google Play

Grail Cast

Grail Cast is a Chromecast-exclusive multiplayer game in which players seek out holy grails in an increasingly complicated and dangerous series of labyrinths. It draws inspiration from the rich history of dungeon crawlers that have gone before it, but it feels fresh and unique in the way it uses Chromecast’s multiplayer capabilities. New players can drop into the game with their smartphone every round, using the touchscreens as controllers to collect the most treasure in madcap, button-mashing fashion.

Grail Cast on Google Play

CastNES and CastGBC 

If you want to indulge in a little retro gaming nostalgia, the easiest way is to cast it. We’re assuming you didn’t hang on to your late 90s or early 2000s consoles, and buying them on eBay could prove a painful and costly task. Luckily, with the CastNES and CastGBC emulators, you can play all the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Gameboy Colour classics on your TV, using your phone as a full-screen game pad. Emulators are 100% legal, of course, but how you go about acquiring the game ROMs is your own business.

CastNES on Google Play | CastGBC on Google Play

Tricky Titans 

Another great time-killer designed exclusively for Google Chromecast, Tricky Titans’ cartoonish charm and competitive gameplay will prove popular with kids and adults alike. Players face each other down in the Primal Smackdown, the ultimate free-for-all battle between the ancient gods. Its gameplay follows a turn-based combat format: in each round you choose between attack, defence or powering up, so some tactical thinking is required in addition to the head-smashing.

Tricky Titans on Google Play 

Angry Birds Friends

The ever-popular Angry Birds is now available to play on your television through a recent update to Angry Birds Friends. Now you can use your smartphone or tablet as a controller, allowing you to catapult little birds on your television to your heart's content.

Angry Birds Friends on Google Play 

Monopoly Here & Now

Hasbro's family classic Monopoly is now available to play on the Google Chromecast. You can view the main board on your big screen while individual players can keep track of their tiles and money from their smartphone. If you're looking for something to do to with the family, consider firing up some Monopoly without the worry of missing pieces.

Monopoly Here & Now on Google Play

Big Web Quiz

Big Web Quiz plugs into Google's Knowledge Graph to generate questions and multiple users can all connect to the Chromecast from their chosen device for a proper gameshow-like experience. It's not just multiple choice questions and answers either, with lots of other interaction methods that keep the game feeling fresh and competitive. It's worth popping on the next time you have friends and family over

Big Web Quiz on Google Play

Best Social Media (and other media) Chromecast apps

Twitch

Watching people play games is all the rage and, seeing as this is Twitch’s raison d'être, it’s a good app to have if you’re into all that. As well as streams by fellow Twitch users, games companies are increasingly using the platform to broadcast keynotes and announcements. If you play a lot of games and want to keep up with developments, Twitch is a good tool to have in your kit. Put it on your small screen, then use Chromecast to fling it onto your TV.

Twitch on Google Play

CastOnTV Instagram

There isn't an official Instagram app on Chromecast yet, but until that happens, CastOnTV Instagram is your next best bet for showing off your own Instagram photos on the big screen. CastOnTV Instagram also supports background music while you're in slideshow mode, so you don't have to sit in an awkward silence while sifting through your holiday snaps. Better yet, you can apply dynamic transition effects for when you switch photos, turning your latest cat photos into a makeshift Star Wars epic.

CastOnTV Instagram on Google Play

Pocket Casts

Not only is Pocket Casts one of the best podcast management apps available on both Android and iOS, it's also Chromecast compatible. It makes it incredibly easy to get your favourite shows and podcasts, both video and audio, playing through your home entertainment centre or Google Cast speakers. The app can be set up to automatically download new episodes of podcasts or shows you subscribe to, meaning it's super easy to keep up to date. The app is well designed and regularly updated by the developers with new features.

Pocket Casts on Google Play Pocket Casts on iOS

iHeartRadio

Operating akin to Pandora, iHeartRadio is a streaming service offering a bunch of real radio stations as well as some music stations categorised by genre, making it easy to navigate if you're in the mood for a certain type of music. Ideal for those times when you don't know what songs to play, the Chromecast app is completely free to use as long as you can tolerate a bit of advertising.

iHeartRadio on Google Play

Udemy Online Courses

If you’re looking to learn something new instead of binge-watching Bojack Horseman on Netflix, Udemy is the answer. Easy to download on your phone, Chromecast means you won’t have to look over lesson plans on the small screen.

Udemy is full of paid courses, but there are plenty of free ones to choose from as well, so you can really just sit back and learn something new.

Udemy Online Courses on Google Play

Best casting tools for Chromecast

Solid Explorer 

Solid Explorer is a handy file-sharing tool to have around the house. It allows you to send a variety of file types to other devices, now made even easier by the Chromecast extension, so that you can view and manage all of your files in one place and share them quickly with others. File types supported include FTP/SFTP, WebDav, and SMB/CIFS, and it also easily works with ZIP compression. Moreover, there’s a simple way to view encrypted files and it supports a number of Cloud storage services. To enable Solid Explorer for Chromecast, you need to download two separate apps, which are linked below.

Solid Explorer on Google Play | Solid Explorer casting extension on Google Play

Megacast – Chromecast Player

Megacast is an excellent Chromecast player that has real-time transcoding support, allowing you to play files from your phone or tablet that aren't supported natively on your individual Chromecast device. This includes AVI, MKV, 3GP files and more. It can also automatically pre-load subtitles or let you add your own, making it one of the most flexible video streaming apps around.

MegaCast on Google Play Store

Plex

If you've got a computer or hard disk stuffed full of movies, TV shows and music then Plex is a great way to enjoy them on just about any device - including Chromecast. Plex has full support for Chromecast and is the best way to enjoy films and TV shows stored on a computer or NAS on the big screen. You can Cast from Plex via either the Android or iOS apps or through the Chrome browser for desktop. For an in-depth guide to using Plex check out our guide.

Plex on Google Play Store 

Kodi

Chromecast is perfect for streaming content from your phone, tablet or PC to your TV, but it's a little more difficult to stream content that’s stored locally to your Chromecast. That's where Kodi comes in, along with its plethora of plugins and extensions. You can read more about Kodi over on our sister site, Alphr.

Kodi on Google Play

LocalCast

One of the best solutions for casting for Android users, LocalCast is a simple platform for streaming local video, music or photos from your device onto a big screen. In addition, you can also cast files from Google Drive, Google+ and Dropbox. The free version of the app comes with ads, although these aren’t shown on the TV screen. Pay for the pro version and you’ll get rid of ads, and have the ability to search and preview while seeking.

LocalCast on the Google Play Store

ES File Explorer

Having a file explorer app is always handy for making sure your Android device stays in tip-top shape. All of those apps you install are always creating new directories that don't get removed even if you uninstall the app, creating a messy file structure and lots of redundant files. ES File Explorer is right up there as one of the best file managers on Android, especially as it works nicely with network shares and even cloud storage as well.

One useful addition to ES File Explorer is the ability to cast content to a Chromecast. So now all you need to do is browse to the relevant video and hit the cast option to get it to your big screen. The great news is that ES File Explorer is completely free. To get it working you'll need to install the ES Chromecast plugin (as well as having ES File Explorer already installed).

ES File Explorer on Google Play | ES Chromecast plugin on Google Play

BubbleUPnP for Chromecast/DLNA

If you’ve got movie files on your Android phone or tablet then this is a brilliant way to stream them on Chromecast in fantastic quality. The app only supports file formats that can play on the Chromecast and it is very reliant on the speed of your home Wi-Fi network. It can also access files stored on your local network, so you can play videos stored on your NAS via your phone to your Chromecast. The free version of the app has limits on how much you can watch, so you'll need to fork out £3.04 for the paid-for BubbleUpnP License app.

BubbleUPnP (Chromecast/DLNA) on Google Play | BubbleUPnP UPnP/DLNA License on Google Play

AllCast

An alternative to BubbleUPnP, AllCast has an alluring, easy to use interface but in our tests it sometimes struggled to stream video to the Chromecast. There’s a menu on the left to help you find your Chromecast and media and videos stored on your device and local network. Unfortunately, in our tests AllCast struggled to find media on our NAS, but it was excellent for streaming video straight from our phone. Once again it can only play files supported by Chromecast and the free version has a one minute viewing limit. AllCast Premium costs £3, so try out the free version before you open your wallet.

AllCast on Google Play

Videostream for Chromecast

Videostream for Chromecast used to only work with .mp4 and .mp3 files but has now been updated to support all file formats. It is simple to use and it works incredibly well. Once you've downloaded the extension for Chrome click 'Select a movie to play', select what you want to watch, click Open and the video will appear on your TV in superb quality.

Videostream for Chromecast on Chrome Web Store

PhotoCast for Chromecast

If you use an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and want to share photos on your TV via Chromecast then you should download PhotoCast for Chromecast. The app works in a similar way to Dayframe (Chromecast Photos). The app can only stream photos stored on your device's albums. It works well enough, with picture quality optimised for your TV's resolution.

PhotoCast on Google Play | Photo Cast on iOS

Buy a Google Chromecast now from Currys