With the latest release of several new Chromecast compatible apps, we saw what could be considered a cash grab by app makers who were now claiming to be Chromecast video streaming compatible.
Plex released the feature only to people who purchased both the $4.99 application and also subscribed to the $3 monthly service, and aVia requires unlocking $2.99 of premium features in order to broadcast media from your Android device to Chromecast.
Realplayer Cloud offered a different free route: with an account sign up, you receive free hosted 2GB storage for streaming, but that requires uploading your content to a third party and having them convert and stream it back for you. It’s not streaming your media, but rather it’s streaming a converted copy of your uploaded media on someone else’s server. To get more storage, you pay. Good for videos of the dog or baby, not so much for seamless streaming from your device; also not private. (Think YouTube account with Realplayer Cloud branding.)
I sat down today with my unrooted Chromecast and played with aVia, the least expensive of this new batch.
An app hang after purchasing the unlock for premium features left the program unresponsive, resulting in having to reboot the phone in order to get it to work. Video streaming worked only for content that was created on my phone. It didn’t work for any downloaded AVIs I could locate, and I tried a lot. Anything I might want to cast claimed it was over five hours long, and then the Chromecast would blank out and return to the aVia logo screen.
Those AVIs were probably not supported on the Chromecast side due to encoding, but I got no notice it wouldn’t work; just failing back to the home screen. If the phone went idle, the stream died. I set several videos to stream and found they were simply playing on my phone instead of casting.
I haven’t plunked down the money for the Plex app and additional money for the subscription to use Chromecast features. Chromecast support is listed as being in a preview period only for Plexpass members, and after the preview they’ll be standard with the application and not require a subscription to the monthly service. I can’t find a compelling argument to pay a monthly fee to test if the app works, nor can I find a good review of the newest version, so I’ll pass for now.
While these three may all come to become great Chromecast streaming giants, right now they’re not seamless, nor what we had back before Google removed the ability to cast all the things. I still find it absurd that Google is heavily advertising a technology for which support still feels like middle alpha-stage testing, and to get functionality like you expect when you purchase the thing you have to pay third parties who don’t have the streaming locked and working like you’d expect.
I keep hoping the public SDK will be available soon and we can get this amazing piece of hardware some amazing software to power it that works, instead of Google directing people to funnel money toward anyone who claims Chromecast support.
I’ll end this with I have no problem with application developers making some money off of what they code; however, this is selling hope (depending on what you’re casting) that Chromecast will work like you thought it would. There are no options for the local streaming apps to try before you buy, as the aVia extras are an in-app purchase and not refundable within 15 minutes. My bet is the Plex Pass is the same, although you might be able to refund the Plex app purchase itself.