Google’s Chromecast is an outstanding way to stream video from a tablet to a TV, and it’s not just for Android devices: here are the best apps for using a Chromecast with an iPad.
Apple makes a rival streaming accessory, but Apple TV starts at $149, much more than the $35 Chromecast. Google’s offering is also a lot more portable, making it a better option for people who want a way to cast video to a TV when they are on the road.
Admittedly, it’s easier to use a Chromecast with an Android tablet or phone, but there is software that will let Apple’s tablets do most of the same functions. We’ve ferreted out the best options.
This one is a no-brainier: anyone with a Chromecast should install the application from Google, and not just because it’s needed whenever the streaming device is moved to a new Wi-Fi network. One of the most useful features of this app is its ability to let you know which software already on your tablet supports the Google Cast service, and help you find more. As the popularity of this inexpensive accessory grows, developers continue to add support for it to their software, and Google’s app keeps track of the new options.
As another alternative, a fairly complete list of iOS (plus Android and Windows) applications that are Chromecast compatible is available from Wikipedia. There are some titles missing from this, however.
Video & TV Cast for Chromecast
2kit Consulting (Free – $5.99)
The web is full of videos you might want to see on your TV, whether they are from Facebook or any of a myriad of other sites. The aptly-named Video & TV Cast is a web browser that can send videos embedded in web pages to a Chromecast.
And you don’t have to use this browser all the time. Suppose you’re in Safari and you run across a video you want to watch on your big screen. Hit the iOS action button and choose the “TV Cast (Chrom.)” option. Then open TV Cast and the page you want will load automatically. At that point you start playing the video on the iPad, and very shortly a link will appear at the bottom of the tablet’s display. Tap on it and the video will be cast to the TV.
A basic version of TV Cast is available for free, but there are additional features available through in-app payments. For example, adding the ability to open the desktop version of websites is 99 cents. Getting the full collection of add-ons is $5.99.
Stefan Pledl (Free – $2.72)
Sending a movie held in the iOS Camera Roll to a nearby TV is just the beginning of what LocalCast can do, though it’s where it gets its name. This app can also stream video files stored on the Internet, though not ones embedded in web pages. For example, you can go to OneDrive, get a link to a video, and play it by opening that link in LocalCast.
One of the best uses of this software is to tie it with a cloud storage service, as it can stream video straight off Google Drive and Box. This means that someone can keep their movie collection online, and then use LocalCast to send it to their TV without taking up space on their iPad.
Unlike TV Cast, this app will stream videos to a Chromecast, as well as Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, and other set top boxes.
A check against LocalCast is that we were unable to get it to cast a video we had recorded with an iPad Pro.
The free version puts a time limit on the videos it streams. Paying $2.72 will remove this.
YouTube, Play Movies
Not surprisingly, Google makes sure all its own iOS applications support Chromecast. This means the vast array of content that’s available on YouTube can be sent to any TV with this streaming device connected to it.
And while Apple’s own video service doesn’t support Chromecast, movies and shows obtained through Google Play can be viewed with this accessory. The selection of programming is very good. Prices to rent movies range from $2.99 to $4.99, and to purchase them is generally $14.99. Individual episodes of TV shows are $1.99, but access to some episodes requires buying entire seasons.
Just be aware, you can’t buy or rent films with the Play Movies app; it’s necessary to do this with a web browser, though this can be done on an iPad. Once a show or movie has been rented/purchased, it will show up in Google’s iOS application for playback.
Watch ABC, PBS Video, PBS Kids, Crackle, Etc.
A great many free video streaming services support Chromecast. This includes TV networks like ABC, CBS, Fox, and PBS, though the offerings of some of these can be limited. Still, they can be a handy way to keep up with some of your favorite TV shows on a big screen when you’re on the road.
There are also free online video services like Crackle that have iOS versions and Chromecast support. These don’t have the latest and greatest movies to choose from — it’s more like B-movies and TV shows from the 1990s — but it’s hard to beat the price.
Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Etc.
Most subscription video services have Google Cast support built into their iOS apps. This means that those who have Netflix, for example, can stream directly to a TV with a Chromecast attached to it.
Not every streaming service supports this, however. Comcast’s app doesn’t, for example. However, many individual cable channel applications do have Google Cast support. This means that, for example, the Disney Channel’s app can stream to a Chromecast. Just be aware, to access most of the content in these apps requires signing in to prove you have a cable TV subscription.
Screen Mirroring Not Available
Some readers have scanned this article looking for software that will allow them to mirror their iPad’s screen onto a TV via a Chromecast. Unfortunately, this is a feature that’s not yet available. It currently can be done only with an AppleTV and AirPlay, not Chromecast.