Using Google’s tiny Chromecast video-streaming device, you can smarten up the biggest screen in your house for around $35. These Chromecast-compatible apps let you sling video from your phone, tablet, or computer to your TV with a tap.
Catch up on the stuff you actually care about with Haystack TV (Android, iOS). You tell it your favorite categories and topics when you first set it up, and it delivers one relevant news video after another. Content gets pulled from major networks, popular blogs, and sources in between. Best of all, the app learns from you over time: The more you use it, the smarter it gets.
Popular fitness app DailyBurn (Android, iOS, Web) lets you shuttle its high-quality video workouts from your phone to your TV, complete with on-screen tips and prompts. There are more than 100 workouts spread out over more than a dozen programs–weights, dance, yoga and more–and there’s a 30-day free trial, which will give you plenty of time to fall off the weight-loss wagon face-first into a pile of Ho Hos before shelling out any moola.
The built-for-Chromecast Big Tweets (Android) app makes your Twitter feed bigger, letting you keep an eye on your timeline, hashtags, and search queries. There are several handsome TV-friendly themes to choose from, and you can view tweets one at a time or as a scrolling list of recent tweets. The free version works four hours per day and refreshes tweets every five minutes; there’s a paid version that’s unlimited and refreshes in real time for those of us with no self control.
Install the free Lyve (Android, iOS, Kindle, Mac, Windows) app on all your devices and it’ll pull all the photos and videos spread out across those gizmos into one giant library that can be cast from the Android and iOS versions of the app to your TV. You can tag photos in order to organize them better and perform simple edits on the blurry, slanty ones that need to be touched up.
Arguably the best, most important use of your Chromecast: turning your TV into a karaoke machine. Check out Yokee (Android) and RockIt (iOS). Each app features a selection of free songs to try and each lets you record your performances so you can relive your crooning the next day under the harsh light of sobriety.