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Google adds Starz, Showtime, and family games to Chromecast

Google announced Showtime Anytime and Starz apps for the Chromecast on Tuesday. The Chromecast will also be getting third-party family games such as Wheel of Fortune and Monopoly Dash.

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    Google added new apps, including Showtime, Starz, and family games, to its Chromecast streaming media stick. This file photo shows a Chromecast being held during a product demonstration.
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Google announced on Tuesday that it’s adding new apps to the Chromecast, its $35 streaming media stick. Most notably, the Chromecast will be getting a Showtime Anytime app, which will allow it to stream shows from the network such as Homeland and The Affair. It’s also getting an app for the Starz network, which includes the first season of Outlander and a good selection of movies.

The Showtime Anytime app has been available for quite some time for the Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV, so this addition just brings the Chromecast up to par with those competitors. But, interestingly, the Starz app isn’t available on any other platform -- it can’t even be accessed through Apple’s Airplay. Both apps need a current subscription to the channel and are authenticated through your cable or satellite provider, just like HBO Go.

Google also announced a slew of new third-party family games for the Chromecast, including Wheel of Fortune, Monopoly Dash, Just Dance Now, Emoji Party, and Simon Swipe. The company is hoping that the Chromecast can become the focus for family game night, since all these games can now be played at TV sizes. The company also announced “Big Web Quiz,” a game made by Google itself that uses the Google Knowledge Graph to generate online trivia questions.

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These new games join the more than 50 that were already available for the Chromecast, any of which can be played with just a phone or tablet (in addition, of course, to a TV with a Chromecast hooked up). The games generally don’t quite have the polish of something you’d find on, say, the Nintendo Wii U, but they do help to add to the Chromecast’s appeal as an inexpensive, capable living-room media/entertainment hub.

These additional apps help the Chromecast to stack up against the Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV -- to say nothing of the Fire TV Stick that Amazon introduced in October. That stick is probably the Chromecast’s closest competitor at this point -- it offers most of the same features of the full Amazon Fire TV, and a hardware remote, at a price that’s almost identical to that of the Chromecast.

With the launch of these new apps, Google also updated the website for Chromecast apps to make it easier to navigate. The apps are now categorized into different tabs, including “TV & Movies,” “Games,” “Music & Audio,” and more. It’s a welcome update for a site that was starting to get cluttered with apps from different categories.

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