When I reviewed the new Chromecast with Google TV in October, I gave it a strong recommendation in large part because it played nicely with Netflix. In contrast to Roku players and Amazon Fire TV devices, the new Chromecast doesn't make you jump through multiple apps just to see what you can watch. Instead, it offers its own top-level menu system for browsing the catalogs of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney, and several other streaming services. To me, this approach represents the future of streaming, and it seemed like Netflix was ready to embrace it. That changed last week, when Netflix's Google TV integration collapsed without explanation.
I've been a Roku user for years, and for the longest time, I couldn't understand why I would ever need a Chromecast. Why would I want to use my phone to play videos on my TV? Also, my inexpensive Roku works great, streams from just about every service, and is easier to use. But then Google released its new Chromecast, which offers multiple ways to find and stream content. For $50--that's $15 more than the original bare-bones Chromecast--you get the new model with Google TV built in.
Google and Apple are following through on their promise to play nice with each other. After announcing in December that the Apple TV app would come to Chromecasts with Google TV, the companies have shared today that the service is now globally available. With the integration, you'll not only be able to use Apple's app from your Chromecast's interface, but you can also access your purchased films and shows, as well as personalized suggestions without having to cast your iPhone to the TV. In the US, Google TV users will see Apple Originals in their personalized recommendations and search results. You'll also be able to ask the Google Assistant to open the Apple app or play one of its exclusive titles.
If you're on the market for a new streaming device, chances are you want to make your watching experience better than it already is. Streaming dongles and set-top boxes are ubiquitous these days, but deciphering the differences between them can be challenging. Plus, they're not the only gadgets that can deliver your latest Netflix obsession to your TV screen. Let's break down all of the streaming device options you have today and give you our picks for the best you can buy. It's worth pointing out that if you only use a couple of streaming services (say, Netflix and Hulu), you might not need a standalone streaming device.