Google has spruced up its Chromecast TV adapter for the holiday-shopping season, with the dongle now supporting video-streaming apps from Showtime and Starz as well as several family-oriented games like Scrabble and Just Dance Now.
Chromecast, the $35 USB-size adapter that plugs into an HDTV’s HDMI port, uses either an iPhone or Android smartphone as the remote control — and with the addition of games, as a game controller. Game apps available for the device include Wheel of Fortune and Hasbro’s Monopoly Dash, Scrabble Blitz, Connect Four Quads and Simon Swipe.
With the dance game Just Dance Now (pictured, above), players hold the smartphone app, which detects if they’re fist-pumping high or shaking their hands down low. Trivia games include Big Web Quiz, which uses Google Knowledge Graph to create hundreds of questions, and Emoji Party, in which players guess movie titles based on the emoji icons.
Showtime and Starz expand the roster of Chromecast video apps, which include HBO Go, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus and WatchESPN. Showtime Anytime is available to subscribers of the premium cabler who have a participating pay-TV provider, and offers current and past seasons on-demand as well as live broadcasts of the network’s East and West Coast feeds.
Similarly, Starz Play and Encore Play are authenticated services available to subs of those respective services. Starz Play offers 400-plus monthly selections, including 300 movies from Disney and Sony and over 100 episodes of Starz original series, including “Survivor’s Remorse, Outlander,” “Power,” “Black Sails,” and “Spartacus.” Encore Play includes more than 1,500 monthly selections, with 300 movies and select series.
Meanwhile, Google has bowed a $99 set-top box, Nexus Player, which offers an on-screen guide, remote and optional game controller. Based on the Android TV software, the set-top is designed to run more powerful apps than the Chromecast.
With the growing list of Chromecast-enabled apps, Google has updated its chromecast.com/apps page with five category tabs: TV and movies, music and audio, games, sports, and media and video. The company claims it has sold millions of the Chromecast devices but hasn’t disclosed any specific sales figures.