Google’s Chromecast and Apple TV are the two most popular ways to turn your dumb HDTV into a slightly smarter one.
There are now three generations of Apple TV; so it has been around for quite a long time, whilst Chromecast is a newer device launched a few years ago. Since then, Chromecast has grown dramatically, thanks to its low price. Here is the comparison of the most important features of these two, in order to help you decide which one is the best choice for you.
Design and Compatibility
The biggest difference between Apple TV and Chromecast is in the way these two look. Apple TV looks like a mysterious, small black box, slightly bigger than a hockey puck, while the Chromecast appears like your regular USB memory stick. Both devices function by plugging them into HDMI port on your television. Apple TV achieves this over a standard HDMI cable which runs between the television and Apple TV, while Chromecast achieves this over its HDMI interface, which is designed directly in the dongle. Regarding the list of supported devices of both Chromecast and Apple TV, there’s no doubt that Google wins here, since Apple is Apple and if you want to use its products correctly, you need to use the Apple products.
OS and UI
The Chromecast runs a light version of Android or a light version of the Google Chrome OS (this depends on who you talk to, since hackers have claimed it is closer to Android, while Google has claimed it’s Chrome OS). On the other hand, Apple TV runs its “Apple TV Software 7.0” on the box itself and it is based on the iOS 8. The release of iOS 8 has brought a complete refresh for the Apple TV’s UI. Its UI is a grid system of channels/apps and you choose to access the content within them. It is pretty easy to navigate. Also, the latest software-Apple TV Software 7.0 brings support for Family Sharing that allows TV shows and movies bought by iTunes account of any family member to be shared with iTunes accounts of other family members. In contrast to this, Chromecast does not feature a UI at all. Everything is done via tabs in Google Chrome browsers or through apps on tablets and smartphones.
Though both Apple TV and Chromecast give you the possibility to stream content to your TV from your devices, both of them are actually made for cloud streaming. This means that both devices provide you with a series of “channels” (even though it would be more accurate to call them apps), which allow you to choose content that is afterwards retrieved from the net and streamed to your device. The Apple TV offers more than 55 channels so far and is gradually adding more channels all the time. Many big names are included such as Netflix, YouTube, ESPN, CNBC, HBO GO, PBS, Showtime Anytime and more. 55 channels on the Apple TV are way better than 20 on the Chromecast. The Chromecast now offers the likes of HBO GO, Google Play Movies, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and Vevo. However, regarding the content, you will be left wanting with both these two devices. The Chromecast allows you the access to hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows via the Google Play, and the Apple TV allows you the access to the same via Apple’s iTunes Store. Also, both devices allow you access to YouTube and Netflix, so it is quite hard do decide a clear winner in this category.
All in all, those who wish a full-featured, traditional media streamer should probably decide for the Apple TV. Also, the Apple TV is the best choice for those who are already in Apple’s ecocsystem with their iPhones and iPads. Then again, it is pretty hard to say no to the Chromecast and its really low price.