Happy birthday, Chromecast. From your interesting but utilitarian beginnings you've turned into a streaming powerhouse, giving Android and Chrome users a ton of options for streaming music, video, and what have you. Just lately that also includes the super-cool capacity for transmitting mirrored audio and video from your phone or tablet right to your TV. It's been a good year, and to celebrate, Google is giving each and every Chromecast owner a free three-month subscription to Play Music All Access.
Let's get this out of the way first: SecondScreen is not an external extended monitor app for Android. (Though that would be extremely cool.) I think the developer does a bit of a disservice with that name. What it does is force your phone or tablet to use a different resolution in order to make it display correctly - or at least more correctly - when casting the screen to a television via Chromecast or simply using an HDMI cable.
You've probably seen the name "JW Player" around the internets, but you may not be aware it's one of the largest providers of embedded streaming video. Yeah, it's no YouTube, but the Flash and HTML5-based JW Player powers sites like Kickstarter, ESPN, and a few million more. It's going to be a lot easier to watch those videos on your TV now that JW Player v6.9 has been released with the promised Chromecast integration (and some other things).
So, you still don't have Koush's AllCast? If you happened to snag all those free Amazon Coins from a few weeks ago, you can officially get this incredibly useful casting app for exactly zero moneydollars. If you didn't jump on the free coins bandwagon, however, you'll have to suck it up and pay five moneys for the full version (via IAP). See, it pays to get free Amazon things from time to time, because then you can get more free Amazon things.
Android's screen casting feature lets people cast all the things, but it doesn't let them cast to all the things. No, Google will officially send media out to a Chromecast, but for other things, that's where third-party apps come in. One of the better options, LocalCast, has jumped up to a new version that brings the app up-to-date with the next release of Android (since L isn't actually out yet, would that make this before-to-date...up-to-early...ahead-of-date?).
Google's HDMI dongle continues to spread across the world, bringing streaming video to bigger screens. This time the Chromecast has landed in Ireland just days after Google Play Movies became available. How convenient.
The device will cost €39 from the Play Store, which is somewhat higher than the US price when you figure in conversion. Until Android TV comes out, the Chromecast is the only way to beam content from all those cast-enabled apps to a TV.
Right now, the ability to cast your Android device's screen to Chromecast is limited to a very small number of devices – mostly the newest Nexus devices and a couple of popular modern handsets like the Galaxy S5 and HTC One. That leaves a lot of users out in the cold who may want to check out the service.
Fortunately, XDA is here to save the day. If you have a rooted handset, there's a simple way to enable casting on your device.
Do you remember Turntable.fm before they gave up on the group listening thing? QCast is the same idea, but it sends tunes from your phone to a Chromecast and anyone can contribute a track. Unlike Turntable, QCast isn't handling any of the music licensing. It just plugs into Google Play Music All Access. It's also for real life gatherings, not random people on the internet.
Every party needs a host, and that person must have an All Access subscription.
Yesterday Google flipped on the Chromecast screen mirroring feature that the company announced last month at Google I/O after teasing us for months. With it, users just tap a single icon to have everything on their screen magically projected onto a television. Forget waiting for individual apps to implement Chromecast support, this feature will let you mirror all the things, and it opens up a world of mobile games to a screen size many of them have never seen before.