THE WAIT IS OVER, as Google's Chromecast has finally made it out of America and has arrived in the UK priced at £30.
But what can it do? During its time as a product exclusive to the US, Google kept a close rein on the apps that were available for it, with carefully selected partners - Youtube, Netflix and Vevo - supporting the device. But after Google released the Chromecast Software Development Kit (SDK) and API at the beginning of the month, Chromecast apps have started to flood the market, making the little HDMI dongle a lot more useful.
The INQUIRER has gathered together 10 Chromecast apps for you to download on the bus home from the shop, so you'll be good to go when you get home and ready to make Chromecast do things you couldn't have imagined. Here's the countdown.
10. Play Snake. You can relive the days of the Nokia 3310 using your phone as a remote control with Gamecasting. Three other games are already available for your £1.20 and the developers are promising more still. Okay, it's hardly Titanfall, but what do you expect for a quid?
9. Beam a webpage. The Google Cast extension for Chrome is still in beta, but it has options to beam the current tab or the whole screen from your desktop or laptop to your telly with a mouse click. It's not all about Android, you know.
8. Have some tailored videos chosen for you. 5by is a video portal from Stumbleupon. It works more or less like its parent website, but with videos. Tell it your preferences, likes, dislikes and what you're doing at that moment, and 5by will create a personalised playlist for you of weird and wonderful clips from all over the internet. Not just cats.
7. Draw on your TV screen. Yes, there's an art package. Draw on your phone screen - using a stylus, not a pen, obviously - and your work is reproduced on the big screen. It's a simple idea with lots of uses, not least making Pictionary a lot easier.
6. Talk to Chromecast and hear her talk back. We know for a fact that Chromecast is female, thanks to News Cast. Ask her for a news story using speech input and she will find the news story and read it back to you in a cringingly synthetic American voice. Great idea, but it needs a lot more work though.
5. Learn to speak properly. It's called English Pronunciation and that's what it gives you, a course on how to speak English like the Queen, courtesy of some BBC guides. We have no idea why, because no one really talks like that, plus the pop-up ads are really irritating.
4. Keep up with your Podcasts. The popular podcast manager Pocket Casts has been updated to allow you to beam your podcasts to the big screen. At £2.49 it's one of the few paid apps offered for the Chromecast, but it's good, it's worth the money, and it surely won't be the last.
3. Get a gorgeous body. Well, Flipps is more than a keep fit app, but it does feature among its many channels a series of fitness video podcasts, along with a range of content from every outfit from NASA to MTV. You can also use it to beam content from your phone and other DLNA servers on the network.
2. Catch up with the headlines. With Haystack.tv, you select the subjects that interest you and you're greeted with a curated news programme based on video news bulletins from around the web.
1. Watch BBC iPlayer. Following Google's launch of the Chromecast in the UK, the BBC was quick to announce that an iPlayer app will be ready and waiting for early adopters, enabling users to catch up on shows such as Top Gear and Don't Tell The Bride.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. At the moment Chromecast apps can be a bit difficult to find in the Google Play store, but fortunately the developer community has come to the rescue, and the result is Cast Store, a directory of Chromecast apps. At the time of writing there's just under 80 and rising.
We've verified that the apps on this list are available in the UK. There's some even cooler stuff that's still US only, but if Chromecast development continues at the rate it has been, the promise for Google's tiny device is only just beginning to be realised. µ