It isn’t difficult to get excited about Google’s new Chromecast dongle – the device which is widely being billed as the televisual bargain of the year for streaming web content straight to your living room. The $35 plastic dongle that Google introduced at its last conference basically plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and receives media streams from supported apps like YouTube, Netflix and Google Play Music on mobile devices or computers connected to the same WiFi network. You can even stream entire Google Chrome tabs to the device. If you want to test-drive Chromecast without actually shelling out your cash, you should try out the new Android app CheapCast, which mimics the Chromecast dongle, effectively turning your Android device into a Chromecast receiver. You can then stream videos and music from Google Play Music, YouTube, Netflix and any other Chromecast-enabled app from Google Chrome on your PC to your Android device or from one Android device to another. Let’s take a closer look at the app after the break.
Chromecast launches to a simple setup screen from where you can enable the Chromecast receiver service by tapping the triangular button in the top-right corner. The setup screen also gives you a few more options to play with, such as giving your phone or tablet a ‘Friendly name’ (a custom moniker to make identifying the device easier), setting CheapCast to start its background service on boot, allowing registration of custom apps with CheapCast along with allowing error and usage data to be sent to Google Analytics.
Once ChearpCast is enabled, a notification appears letting you know it’s running in the background. You may also restart or stop the service anytime you want, both from within CheapCast’s interface or the notification you see in the notification panel.
On the other phone or tablet, which you aim to use as a remote device, all you have to do is start the supported application (YouTube, for instance), start playing a video or song, and tap the ‘Cast’ button. The Chromecast enabled app should automatically detect CheapCast and show the Cast icon, which you can tap to start streaming to the your receiver device. In YouTube for Android, this button appears to the left of the Share option right above the video (as shown in the screenshot below).
Once you tap the Cast button, CheapCast displays a small prompt allowing you to select the your device from the list of detected ones as well as specify the volume of the stream at the receiver’s end. Once that is done, CheapCast instantly begins streaming on the target device. Right now, the app is in early beta and doesn’t support the ability to stream entire tabs from Google Chrome via the Chromecast extension.
CheapCast can be download for free from Google Play Store link provided below. Unless your Android device already has a micro HDMI port, you can use the app in combination with a micro USB to HDMI MHL adapter to get the complete Chromecast experience for free.