The number of apps supporting Google’s Chromecast dongle has ballooned to 17, including a few ways to beam your own photos and videos onto the television.
The new choices range from mainstream to eclectic. Users can now watch music videos through VEVO and tech-centric Internet shows through Revision3, while the Washington Post’s PostTV app is a source for news videos. Viki provides streaming shows and movies from Asia, and Red Bull TV serves up extreme sports. For podcasts, there’s BeyondPod for Android, and Songza joins the streaming music roster.
Earlier this year, Google blocked an app that streamed local media files to Chromecast, but now a few new apps are trying to fill the void. Unfortunately, they all have their drawbacks. Plex allows users to stream photos, music, and video from a local media server, but only PlexPass subscribers get Chromecast support for now. Avia requires a $2.99 in-app purchase for Chromecast support, and it’s only available for Android, not iOS devices. RealPlayer Cloud only supports video, and requires users to upload their files with a 2GB storage limit. Chromecast still needs a simpler way to send locally-stored photos and videos to the television.
Along with the new apps, Chromecast supports Netflix, Google Play TV & Movies, Google Play Music, YouTube, HBO Go, Pandora, and Hulu Plus.
Chrome users can also mirror any browser tab using the Cast extension for laptops and desktop PCs.
As always, users don’t have to do anything to get Chromecast support in these apps. The $35 dongle simply detects when it’s on the same Wi-Fi network as your phone and tablet, and presents a “Cast” button within the existing app.
It’s still unclear when Google will open the door to more third-party apps by releasing public software-developer tools. Over the weekend, Google hosted a Chromecast hackathon, fueling speculation that the app floodgates are about to open, but for now, just a small number of seemingly-random apps are being allowed to trickle through. The $35 dongle won’t reach its full potential until that changes.