A few more major streaming services have made their way to Google's Chromecast TV dongle.
Chromecast users can now stream music from Rdio, buy and watch new movie releases from Vudu and stream free movies and TV shows from Crackle. All three services have added Chromecast support to their iOS, Android, and Web apps.
These aren't the first new apps to come along since Google opened up Chromecast to all developers, but they're arguably the most well-known. Other recent additions include Allcast, Castaway and Photo Cast for playing your phone's media files; Podcast Addict and Pocket Casts for podcasts; GamingCast and QCast for light gaming; and Dayframe and Google's Photo Wall for casting image slideshows to the television.
Along with existing apps such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go, the new apps are helping Chromecast step up its rivalry with Roku, Apple TV and other media streamers. And it's still the cheapest option at $35, edging out Roku's just-released $50 Streaming Stick.
Keep in mind, however, that Chromecast doesn't come with a dedicated remote control. Instead, you control everything through a smartphone or tablet, loading up your app of choice and then tapping a Cast button to send playback to your TV set. This may be a burden for some users, but it's a blessing if you're the kind of person who always watches TV with a phone or tablet in hand; finding and selecting videos on a touch screen is a lot easier than thumbing around with arrow keys on a remote control.
There's just one major missing piece to the Chromecast puzzle, and that's live video. All of Chromecast's major streaming media apps deal with on-demand content, rather than live sports or television. The absence of MLB.tv support is especially disappointing as the regular season gets underway.
But the live TV element may fall into place soon enough. Earlier this month, Aereo said it would launch Chromecast support within a couple of weeks, and Slingbox support is reportedly coming soon as well.
Even if Chromecast hasn't quite achieved perfection, it's made big strides since its launch last July. The latest new apps make it an even stronger contender for your streaming needs.