Chromecast is a dongle from Google that plugs into your TV and enables you to watch videos, listen to music, view photos and more. It is designed for Android phones and tablets, but it works with the iPhone and iPad too.

The Chromecast from Google plugs into a spare HDMI socket on the television and what’s on the screen of your phone or tablet can be cast (displayed) to the TV. This enables you to watch with friends or by yourself on a big screen. With super-size televisions costing less than ever, this is a great idea.

If you are an Apple fan and have an iPad, iPhone and Mac, it makes sense to buy an Apple TV because it does more than the Chromecast and it is the obvious choice because everything is designed to work together.

If you have a mixture of computers and devices, such as an Android phone or tablet, along with an iPhone or iPad, the Chromecast is the better device. The reason is that if you have an Apple TV then Android devices cannot access it, but if you have a Chromecast then both Android and iOS devices can access it.

If you live on your own then you can choose to go for all Apple or all Android kit, but if you have a family or share with housemates, then you could well have a mixture of devices and the Chromecast lets everyone access the TV for viewing movies, music, photos and games.

After plugging in the Chromecast to the television’s HDMI socket, select the input using the TV remote. Setting up Chromecast is covered here.

Once this is done a Cast button appears in apps that are able to connect to it. Not all apps can, so you simply have to try them and see. A TV is primarily used for watching television shows and movies, so fire up those apps on your iPhone or iPad and see if there is a Cast button.

Chromecast on the iPad
Casting a YouTube video from the iPad to the TV

YouTube has one for example, which is hardly surprising since the video sharing service and Chromecast are both by Google, but there are others. Netflix, Vimeo, BBC iPlayer, All 4 are ones I have used here in the UK. If you are in the US then you may have different video and movie players. Search for Chromecast in the App Store on the iPhone and iPad to find more apps that support it.

Chromecast on the iPad
Casting from BBC iPlayer on the iPad

With All 4 (Channel 4 and E4 television here in the UK), the app enabled or disabled Chromecast depending on the TV show. It blocked Bing Bang Theory and would only show it on the iPad, but many other shows were fine. This is probably a rights issue and All 4 does probably does not have the right to broadcast certain programmes to other devices.

Chromecast on the iPad
Casting from Vimeo on the iPad

Unless you need to set up a Chromecast with an iPhone or iPad, you don’t need the Chromecast app. It has a few minor features, such as being able to edit the backdrop (the image used as a screensaver), but it does not do much else.