Why Google Chromecast's Wave of New Apps Is a Huge Deal

Google Chromecast is closing the functionality gap with Apple TV. Image: Google.

Well, that sure didn't take long.

If you've kept up with my musings here at Fool.com lately, you might remember I went out on a limb Tuesday to suggest Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Chromecast was about to renew its assault on Apple  (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) TV through an impending rollout of new key features.

After launching in July with support for "just" Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Chrome, as of last week the Chromecast team had only added three new apps to its repertoire, including Hulu Plus, Pandora, and HBO Go.

As luck would have it, and less than an hour after my take was published, the folks at Google took to their official Chrome blog to unveil no fewer than 10 newly compatible Chromecast apps for the slick little $35 HDMI device. 

Here's what Chromecast can do now
OK, I'll admit I wasn't entirely correct. Specifically, I called for Chromecast to narrow the gap between Apple TV by implementing full-display mirroring, an oft-requested ability that definitely wasn't part of Google's latest announcement. 

But let's not understate the importance of the functionality Chromecast's latest apps enables.

So what did Chromecast add this week?

First, audiophiles can enjoy casting music from Songza, and there's also music video and live concert specialist VEVO. 

On the more random side, there's podcast manager BeyondPod, Red Bull.TV for adrenaline junkies, PostTV for all things Washington Post, and original TV shows from Revision3. In addition, Chromecast now works with the amazingly popular Viki app, which caters to fans of Korean and Japanese TV, anime, and movies.

Saving the best for last
The real excitement, however, lies in the fact that Chromecast users are now able to cast locally stored content through Plex, Avia, and RealPlayer Cloud.

And while the Plex app only supports video casting for now, its developers have promised photos and audio will follow shortly. In addition, Plex for Chromecast is currently available for only its premium members, but a free version is expected to be released in the near future.

Meanwhile, Avia not only allows casting of all media from mobile devices and any local DLNA enabled device, but also includes the ability to cast photos and video from Facebook, Dropbox, and Picasa. As it stands, note Avia requires users fork out $2.99 to unlock Chromecast support.

Finally, RealPlayer Cloud allows Chromecast users to cast videos from iOS, Android, the Internet, and even from other mobile devices connected to the same network.

Foolish bottom line
All things considered, I think it's safe to say the added flexibility of playing local content through these three apps easily represents the biggest leap forward since Chromecast's debut.

Will it be enough to completely silence the naysayers and cause a worldwide revolt against the $99 Apple TV? Probably not, but you can bet Google has every intention of continuing to roll out slews of new Chromecast apps going forward, so the decision to go with Google will only be made that much easier for consumers on the fence.

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  • Report this Comment On December 17, 2013, at 2:39 PM, fortyfour73 wrote:

    Also note: aVia is a one time 2.99, not monthly fees like some the others. Not forking over to me.

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