Apple TV vs. Chromecast: Which Should You Buy?
Comparison of Apple TV and Chromecast: Channels\Apps | Features | Costs | User interface | Ease of Installation | and more…
Published: 20th Jul 2020
Quick Apple TV vs. Chromecast Comparison
However, even though both Apple TV and Google Chromecast are streaming devices, comparing the two is next to impossible. They follow vastly different streaming ideologies — and target different demographics — so it's hard to find a fair point of comparison.
Apple TV is an OS-based streaming device with a proper interface, while Chromecast has no OS or interface. Apple TV is one of the most expensive and premium streaming devices, while Chromecast is one of the most budget-friendly streaming devices. Furthermore, Apple TV has optimal integration with the Apple ecosystem, while Chromecast has optimal interactivity with the Google ecosystem.
These are just three of the many ways in which Apple TV and Chromecast differ from each other.
However, in this article, I'll analyze every single aspect of these streaming devices to see how they stack up against each other.
What is Apple TV? Overview of Apple TV Devices
Apple TV is one of the most elite streaming devices. It is famous for its interactivity with the rest of the Apple ecosystem. If you have various Apple devices, you will do well to invest in an Apple TV.
Like most Apple devices, Apple TV is incredibly powerful, sleek, and has a minimalist aesthetic. The biggest issue with Apple TV is that it's twice or three times as costly as most other streaming devices on the market.
So, when push comes to shove, you have to ask yourself: Is it worth it?
Apple TV currently has three devices on the market — Apple TV HD, Apple TV 4K 32GB, and Apple TV 4K 64GB.
Apple TV HD
Apple TV HD is the entry-level Apple TV streaming device, maxing out at 1080p Full HD video support. It has an internal storage of 32GB.
Apple TV 4K 32GB
Apple TV 4K 32GB is the high-end Apple TV streaming device, maxing out at 4K Ultra HD and HDR Dolby Vision support. It has an internal storage of 32GB.
Apple TV 4K 64GB
Apple TV 4K 32GB is the high-end Apple TV streaming device, maxing out at 4K Ultra HD and HDR Dolby Vision support. It has an internal storage of 64GB.
Pros & Cons of Apple TV Devices
What is Google Chromecast? Overview of Chromecast Devices
Google Chromecast is a tiny device that plugs into your TV's HDMI and provides access to streaming platforms and allows casting.
Chromecast sets itself apart from other streaming devices with its lack of built-in storage space and operating system. Google's driving philosophy is that your smartphone is the only remote you need. As such, Google Chromecast is entirely dependent on external smartphones and voice assistants.
In addition to streaming content, Google Chromecast is also known for its casting abilities. Regardless of the phone you have, you can easily cast all your content to your TV through the Chromecast.
Google Chromecast currently provides two streaming devices — Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra.
Chromecast is an entry-level streaming device, maxing out at 1080p video playback support.
Chromecast Ultra is a high-end streaming device, maxing out at 4K Ultra HD video playback with HDR Dolby Vision support. Chromecast Ultra is also compatible with Google's Stadia for advanced gaming capabilities.
Pros & Cons of Chromecast Devices
Comparison of Apple TV and Chromecast Devices
As we mentioned earlier, comparing Apple TV and Chromecast is sort of like comparing apples and oranges, or perhaps apples and googles. It's not a completely fair comparison because they clearly target different demographics, focusing primarily on users engaged with their native ecosystems. For this reason, I'll simply compare their general streaming philosophies in addition to their unique features.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Design
Apple TV looks like a small black box with glossy sides and a matte top. The Apple TV logo appears on the top — glossy black over matte black. The Apple TV remote has a similar aesthetic, alternating between glossy black and matte black, with only the most essential buttons. You don't need to worry about concealing the Apple TV device — it bears flaunting.
Chromecast is a black circular device with a 2" diameter and a 0.5" width. Some older Chromecasts have a matte black aesthetic, but the recent Chromecasts have a sleek glossy black aesthetic. In most cases, the Chromecast lies behind the TV, out of sight. However, even if it is sitting next to your TV, it's not an eyesore. Chromecast doesn't come with a remote control or a built-in operating system.
Winner (design): Tie
Both Apple TV and Chromecast have minimalist and distinct aesthetics. They're both fairly attractive, and you don't need to worry about them being an eyesore.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Installation
Installing Apple TV is pretty simple, especially for iPhone users. Connect the Apple TV device to your TV's HDMI port and a separate power outlet. If you want optimal speed, you can also connect it to your router via the ethernet port.
After connecting the Apple TV, you need to set it up. For manual setup, you'll have to connect your TV to your WiFi, log into your Apple account, and follow the on-screen prompts for configuration. However, iPhone users can simply tap their iPhones to the Apple TV — your WiFi credentials and account details will be transferred automatically.
After you're logged in, you can download the apps you want. You can do this either through the on-screen interface or via your smartphone app.
Connecting the Chromecast to your TV is easy. Connect your Chromecast to the TV's HDMI port and a power outlet. You can use the TV's USB port, if it has sufficient power, or connect it to an external power outlet via the included adapter and USB cord. It doesn't include an ethernet port.
After connecting the Chromecast, you need to set it up. Since Chromecast doesn't have an OS, the setup is handled entirely through the smartphone app. Download the Google Home app, connect it to your WiFi network, and pair it with your Chromecast.
The installation process is the same for both iOS and Android users.
Winner (Installation): Tie
Both Apple TV and Chromecast have equally simple installation processes.
You have to connect the Apple TV device and Chromecast in the same way, connecting to the HDMI port and a power outlet. With Chromecast, you can also connect the device to the TV's USB port. However, with Apple TV, you have access to an ethernet port for increased speed.
Where the two really differ is in the setup process. Apple TV has a built-in OS that you have to install. You have to log into your Apple account, connect to the WiFi, and follow the on-screen steps. Chromecast, however, doesn't have a built-in OS, which means you're entirely dependent on your smartphone app.
It's worth mentioning that installing Apple TV is a lot easier for iPhone users because they have to simply tap the Apple TV device with their phones.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Content Quality
HD: The entry-level Apple TV supports Full HD content while the high-end Apple TV devices max out at Ultra HD 4K playback, provided you have a 4K-compatible TV.
HDR: Apple TV 4K supports HDR content, including HEVC Dolby Vision and HDR10. However, you need a Dolby Vision-compatible TV with an HDCP port.
Audio: All Apple TV devices have Dolby Atmos audio support, provided you have Dolby Atmos-compatible speakers.
HD: Chromecast supports Full HD content while Chromecast Ultra maxes out at Ultra HD 4K playback, provided you have a 4K-compatible TV.
HDR: Chromecast Ultra supports HDR content with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support, provided you have a Dolby Vision-compatible TV with an HDCP port.
Audio: All Chromecast devices support Dolby Atmos audio, provided you have Dolby Atmos-compatible speakers.
Winner (content quality): Tie
Both Apple TV and Chromecast have equally powerful and future-proofed content support.
All Apple TV and Chromecast devices support Dolby Atmos, a theatrical sound experience that envelops your environment with moving sounds that resonate all around you.
The entry-level Apple TV and Chromecast devices max out at Full HD without HDR support. The high-end Apple TV and Chromecast devices provide Ultra HD video with HDR10 and Dolby Vision support.
Dolby Vision is the gold standard in HDR content. Dolby Vision compatibility effectively future-proofs both Apple TV and Chromecast because this will soon become the norm in video streaming platforms, even though its support is currently limited.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast OS Interface
Apple TV works on its native operating system — tvOS. It also includes a 64-bit A10X Fusion Chip, the same processor used in the iPad Pro.
Both the operating system and processor are incredibly advanced, arguably the best in the industry. Apple TV's operating system is incredibly sleek, minimalist, and attractive. Furthermore, navigating the menus is easy, and you have some great built-in features like Up Next, which gives you a list of the upcoming episodes from your ongoing shows.
Chromecast doesn't have an operating system because it acts as a conduit to transfer content from your smartphone. As such, you have to control it through your smartphone, without any menus, search bars, etc.
Winner (OS Interface): Apple TV
Apple TV clearly comes out ahead because it's the only one of the two with a functional operating system. This is one of the greatest differences between the two devices.
It's a bit unfair to markdown Chromecast for the lack of an operating system. After all, Google made an deliberate choice to avoid a built-in operating system to ensure you access all the controls through your smartphone. However, if you like using your TV as a traditional TV with remote control and on-screen menus, Chromecast isn't the right option for you.
Apple TV, meanwhile, has one of the most beautiful operating systems among all streaming platforms.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Remote Control
Apple TV has a sleek and attractive Siri remote control featuring only the most essential buttons. It includes a keypad with which you can navigate around the menu by swiping. If you don't like that, you can also turn it into a directional keypad through your iPhone. The Siri remote control also includes a microphone button to access Siri voice commands.
Siri remote control isn't an IR remote control, like most remote controls, but rather a Bluetooth-enabled controller. This gives you a wider range, and you can control the TV even from another room. However, you have to charge the remote control about once a month with the included lightning cable.
Chromecast doesn't provide a remote control because Google believes your smartphone is the only remote control you need.
However, if you prefer using a traditional remote control, some TVs allow you to pair their remote control with an external device. If you wish to take this option, you will need to explore your TV's settings to determine whether you can pair your TV's remote with your Chromecast.
If so, you'll be able to use your regular TV remote to control basic features, like power on/off, volume, etc., but nothing more advanced.
Winner (remote control): Apple TV
Apple TV has a remote control, and Chromecast doesn't — it's that simple.
Sure, you can retrofit your TV's remote to interact with your Chromecast, but that doesn't work for all TVs. Yes, you can use your smartphone app as a remote control, but some prefer traditional remote controls.
Apple TV can also be controlled through a smartphone, but it leaves the decision to the end-user and doesn't force the user's hand.
Apple TV app vs. Chromecast App
Apple TV can be controlled entirely through your smartphone, but only if you're an iPhone user. If you're an Android user, you'll have little to no control over the Apple TV device through your phone.
This is fairly standard behavior for Apple — the company always tries to push you deeper into the Apple ecosystem by enhancing its ecosystem interactivity while making things difficult for Android users.
If you're an iPhone user, your smartphone works as a brilliant remote control even without an app. You can do the following with your iPhone:
In addition to these brilliant controls, you can also download the Apple TV app to your iPhone. Here again, the app is only available on iOS devices.
The Apple TV app doesn't offer traditional controls because they're not necessary. However, it does act as a second cellular interface for your Apple TV. You can navigate through your library, download videos, download apps, follow shows, control playback, etc.
You can download the Apple TV app from the Apple Store.
Chromecast has been designed to work primarily through the smartphone app. As such, Chromecast needs to have a brilliant app interface — and it does. Google Chromecast can be controlled through the Google Home app, which functions as a remote control and mirroring app all in one.
As a remote control, Google Home turns your entire smartphone into an interface for your Chromecast. You don't need to access your streaming platforms through the Google Home app. Instead, you can download all the relevant apps to your phone. When you access an app from your phone, tap the casting icon on the screen and transfer it to the Chromecast. The video will start playing on your TV. You can also perform actions like fast forward, skip, pause, play, and volume up/down from your smartphone.
As a mirroring and casting app, Google Home allows you to cast content from your phone, web browser, and computer. For example, you can cast your photo libraries, home videos, and even web browsers to your Chromecast TV. This feature is especially useful because you can cast all the content on your phone, even the content you access on your Google Chrome web browser. Most streaming devices have a rudimentary casting feature, but Chromecast has one of the most impressive casting features around.
The only area in which the smartphone interface and control falls short is private listening. Chromecast doesn't have a private listening option for wired or wireless headphones, a feature that's become standardized in most streaming devices.
Winner (app): Chromecast
The entire Chromecast ecosystem has been built around the smartphone being used as a remote control. As such, it stands to reason that Google would put everything into their smartphone interface.
For iPhone users, both Chromecast and Apple TV offer equally optimal smartphone interactivity and interfaces. Both have brilliant playback controls, awesome casting and mirroring features, and easy navigation features. Furthermore, in both cases, you can access these features without actively using a smartphone app — your smartphone is paired to the streaming device, acting as a remote control.
For Android users, however, Apple TV offers little to no support. It's doing what Apple does best — pushing you closer toward an all-Apple ecosystem. Chromecast, however, is just as effective with Android phones as it is with iPhones.
iPhone users can use either streaming device because both have perfect smartphone interactivity. However, Android users should avoid the Apple TV device if they want to retain smartphone controls.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Voice Control
Apple TV enables voice control through the iPhone, HomePod, and the remote control — but only through the Siri voice assistant.
The remote control features a microphone button. You have to hold down this button when giving voice commands. You can also access Siri's voice commands through your iPhone. If you have an Apple HomePod, you can also say "Hey Siri" to give voice commands.
As you give voice commands, your words appear on the Apple TV screen, allowing you to edit the command if it's not accurate. However, in most cases, Siri is fairly accurate when interpreting your commands.
Apple TV is only compatible with Siri's voice assistant, not Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Google Chromecast enables voice control through the smartphone app or Google Assistant devices, like Google Home and Google Home Mini smart speakers.
You can tap the microphone icon in the Google Home app to give voice commands and navigate Chromecast. If you have a device with Google Assistant, you can also say "Hey Google" to give voice commands.
Google Assistant is known as one of the most effective and accurate voice assistants. As such, you can navigate through Chromecast with a fair degree of accuracy and convenience.
Chromecast is faithful to the Google ecosystem and is only compatible with Google Assistant, not Siri or Alexa.
Winner (voice control): Chromecast
Both Apple TV and Chromecast are platform-exclusive. Apple TV can only be controlled through the Siri voice assistant and Chromecast can only be controlled through Google Assistant. Both voice assistants are fairly accurate and convenient for their respective platforms.
However, Google Home can be installed on your iPhone or Android device, allowing you to access Google Assistant on any smartphone. Siri, however, can only be accessed on your iPhone, not on Android phones. This means Android users can only access Apple Voice commands through a HomePod or their Siri remote control.
In summary, Chromecast comes ahead of Apple TV not because it's better, but because it has greater compatibility.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Ease of Use
Apple TV can be controlled via the Siri remote control, iPhone controls, or HomeKit accessories like HomePod. Apple TV only provides smartphone controls to iPhone users, not Android users.
The online user interface and smartphone controls are both insanely intuitive. The Apple operating system is streamlined and speedy, allowing you to conveniently navigate the menus and search options. iPhone users can access a wide range of features, including private listening and mirroring, from their phones without a third-party app.
However, Apple's greatest stroke of genius is in its accessibility features. Apple recently released a series of features targeted at individuals with visual, aural, physical, motor, or literary impairments. Accessibility features improve the user interface for people with such impairments.
The following are some of the most popular and useful accessibility features:
Chromecast can be controlled via the Google Home smartphone app and devices with Google Assistant integration. However, Chromecast offers optimal smartphone controls for both iPhone and Android users, not discriminating against either.
Chromecast doesn't have dedicated accessibility features. You could claim that the voice commands qualify as an accessibility feature because you can navigate Chromecast menus and dictate content without sight. But that's a side-effect of voice commands rather than the original intent.
Winner (Ease of use): Apple TV
Apple TV provides remote control, voice control, and iPhone control. It has some of the greatest smartphone controls among all streaming devices, just as good as Chromecast's smartphone controls. And Apple TV has dedicated accessibility controls, a thoughtful set of features that every device should have but unfortunately doesn't.
Chromecast clearly has the best smartphone controls, for both iOS and Android users. But it doesn't have a remote control or on-screen interface for those who prefer a traditional approach. And it doesn't have dedicated accessibility features.
Overall, Apple TV has far superior controls and interactivity. However, it has one fatal flaw — it doesn't work well with the Android ecosystem, pushing you to go all-Apple. As such, those with Google Home devices, Android devices, etc., may want to avoid Apple TV.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Apps & Channels
Winner (apps and channels): Chromecast
Apple TV and Chromecast are pretty similar in most content regards. Both are compatible with most of the popular streaming platforms and cable TV channels.
They're also both pretty guarded about their ecosystems. As such, Apple TV doesn't have support for Spotify or Google Play Music, while Chromecast doesn't have support for Apple TV+. However, in both cases, there are simple workarounds to bypass these restrictions.
Chromecast comes ahead of Apple TV purely because it enables gaming. In addition to having dedicated apps, Chromecast is also compatible with Google's subscription-based Stadia service.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Support
Apple TV has a great support system, comprising a knowledge base, paid AppleCare Protection Plan, support community, and live support.
The knowledge base is complete with instructional guides and troubleshooting tips. You can also post concerns to the Apple support community to open up a discussion. If none of that works, you can access live support after answering a few questions.
If you're willing to pay, you can also sign up for the premium AppleCare Protection Plan.
Chromecast has a great repository of instructional guides and troubleshooting tips, but it doesn't have live chat support.
Winner (Support level): Apple TV
Apple TV offers a wide range of support features, both paid and non-paid. Furthermore, everything is laid out clearly and straightforwardly.
Apple TV vs. Chromecast Cost
Winner (cost): Chromecast
The most advanced Chromecast device costs half as much as the entry-level Apple TV device. That just about says it all! Apple TV is a premium device, while Chromecast is a budget-friendly device.
Verdict: Apple TV or Chromecast?
Earlier in this article, I mentioned how comparing Apple TV and Chromecast is challenging because they work on such vastly different streaming principles. Both Apple TV and Chromecast are brilliant devices with vast libraries of content and future-proofed HDR Dolby Vision support, but their ecosystems and streaming philosophies are completely different.
You should get an Apple TV device if you:
You should get a Chromecast device if you:
Based on these details, you should be able to figure out what you're looking for. Are you more of a traditionalist or a smartphone-purist? Do you have more Apple products or non-Apple products? These considerations will help you pick the right streaming device.
FAQs About Apple TV and Chromecast Devices
Does Apple TV work with Chromecast?
If you're talking about the Apple TV device, then both the Apple TV and Chromecast are sources of content. You can connect them to the same TV through different HDMI ports, but you can't access them together.
However, if you're talking about the Apple TV app or Apple TV+ subscription service, you can't directly cast them to your Chromecast TV. Apple uses its own protocol — AirPlay — to cast its content to the TV. As such, you can't play Apple TV+ content on your Chromecast directly through the app. Instead, you'll have to play the content through tv.apple.com accessed on your Google Chrome browser and cast the browser to your Chromecast TV.
What is the difference between Apple TV and Chromecast?
The primary difference between Apple TV and Chromecast is in their streaming philosophies.
Apple TV is a traditional streaming device with a built-in operating system. As such, the Apple TV device is a processor with storage space and apps that you can access directly on the TV.
Chromecast, however, is a dongle without an internal operating system. As such, Chromecast can only be controlled through your smartphone. You can play content on your phone and cast it to your Chromecast TV.