Devices that provide network entertainment platforms such as Netflix and hulu, for your TV are among the most popular gadgets these days and two of the most popular options are Google Chromecast and Apple TV . Both are small, relatively inexpensive devices that connect to a TV and stream any content, but they are quite different.

An illustration of a man looking at an Apple TV and choosing a Google Chromecast
Lifewire / Colleen Teague

Apple TV: More Than Apple’s Chromecast Version

Apple TV and Google Chromecast do two different things. Apple TV gives you everything you need except a TV and an internet connection. That’s because it has built-in apps including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, WatchESPN, HBO Go, and dozens of other services. If you already have a subscription to one of these services, you can start enjoying your entertainment right away.

Google Chromecast, on the other hand, doesn’t have apps installed. Instead, it’s basically a channel that a computer or smartphone that has certain apps installed can stream to a TV. Not all apps are compatible with Chromecast (although there is a workaround, as described below).

You can use Apple TV directly with your TV without the need for additional hardware, but you need a computer or smartphone to use Chromecast.

Controlling Apple TV vs. Google Chromecast

iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads, and computers with iTunes, can control Apple TV. Both iOS devices and iTunes have AirPlay (Apple’s wireless streaming technology) built in, so there’s no need to install additional software to use with Apple TV. However, if you’re using an Android device, you’ll need to install the software in order for it to communicate with your Apple TV.

Chromecast, on the other hand, requires you to install software on your computer in order to set up the device and send content to your TV. As far as smartphone apps are concerned, operating system no native Chromecast support so you have to wait until every app you want to use is updated with Chromecast compatible features.

Apple TV is more tightly integrated with compatible devices than Chromecast.

Compatible with Android, iOS, Mac and Windows

Apple TV is made by Apple and Google is made by Chromecast. You’ll get the best Apple TV experience if you have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac . However, Windows and Android computers can also work with Apple TV.

Chromecast is more platform independent, meaning you’ll have a similar experience on most devices and computers. However, iOS devices cannot mirror their displays; Only Android and desktop computers can (see below for more information on display mirroring).


Both devices are fairly inexpensive, but the Chromecast has a lower sticker price of $35 compared to $150 for an Apple TV.

Install your own apps

While many apps are already installed on Apple TV, users cannot add their own apps. So you are limited by what Apple gives you. With Chromecast, you have to wait for app updates to enable device compatibility. Many, but not all apps work on both devices.

Mirror reflection

One great solution for apps that aren’t compatible with Apple TV or Chromecast is to use a feature called screen mirroring. This tool will help you cast everything on your device or computer screen directly to your TV.

Apple TV includes built-in support for the feature AirPlay Mirroring from iOS and Mac devices, but does not support mirroring from Android or Windows devices. Chromecast supports screen mirroring from Android devices as well as desktop computers that have its software installed, but not from iOS devices.

In short, both devices support mirroring, but they prefer the products of their parent companies.

Music, radio and photo

Both Apple TV and Chromecast can deliver non-video content such as music, radio, and photos to your home entertainment system. Apple TV provides built-in apps and features for streaming music from iTunes (either from the iTunes library on your computer or from songs on your account iCloud ), iTunes Radio, internet radio and podcasts. It can display photos if they are stored in your computer’s Photo Library or your PhotoCloud Photo Stream.

Chromecast does not support these features out of the box. Some common music apps like Pandora , Google Play Music and soundcloud, support Chromecast, and new ones are added all the time.


In general, the difference between the Apple TV as a platform and the Chromecast as an accessory is that the Apple TV works better with more diverse types of content, at least for now. The Chromecast may end up with more options, but it’s a little less refined at the moment. You may enjoy Apple TV more if you use other Apple products, but Chromecast may be more ideal if you use Android devices.

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