5 Instagram Photo Editors to Create Better Pictures

5 Instagram Photo Editors to Create Better Pictures

instagram-photo-editors

While Instagram is the go-to platform for those who want to share their images online, it’s definitely not the be-all and end-all when it comes to photo editing.

Luckily, there are multiple photo editing apps that allow you to share your edited snaps directly to Instagram. And here are the best Instagram photo editors available.

What Are Instagram Photo Editors?

The main difference between regular photo editing apps and Instagram photo editors is that the latter has built-in sharing capabilities that let you to send your picture to your Instagram feed.

Since sharing has become an integral part of many apps, most photo editing apps will include this feature. This means that you won’t have to physically save your picture to your device before trying to post it on Instagram. Furthermore, many apps with no affiliation to Instagram include this feature, so you’re not just limited to Instagram-affiliated apps.

These apps open Instagram upon sharing, allowing you to apply any additional Instagram filters and a caption (if desired). This is incredibly useful since Instagram often lacks the fine editing capabilities many smartphone photographers are looking for.

Instagram photo editors are different than Instagram repost apps, which let you publish other Instagram users’ pictures on your own feed.

1. Snapseed

Snapseed is a favorite choice for smartphone photographers thanks to its simple-yet-nuanced tools. In fact, we ranked Snapseed as the best photo editing app on Android.

The major advantage of Snapseed is its selective and brush editing tools. These allow you to edit specific sections within your picture, rather than simply applying adjustments to an entire image. This means that if a specific object is overexposed, you can edit that object and leave the brightness and exposure for the rest of the image unaffected.

Snapseed also includes a variety of filters and other advanced tools.

When you’re done with your image, you can choose to export it or share it to your Instagram feed. This opens the Instagram app so that you can publish it directly to the platform.

Download: Snapseed for Android | iOS (Free)

2. A Color Story

Despite not being owned by or affiliated with Instagram, A Color Story integrates the platform heavily.

A Color Story includes a variety of tools, including filters and photography adjustments. Many are available for free, but the photo editing app also includes a number of paid filters.

A Color Story allows you to create your caption and schedule a reminder to post your image to Instagram, similar to other scheduling apps such as Buffer and Crowdfire. You can also connect your Instagram app directly to A Color Story with your Instagram login.

This heavy integration means that A Color Story really embodies the concept of an Instagram photo editor. When publishing your images, A Color Story copies your caption to your clipboard and opens the Instagram app.

Download: A Color Story for Android | iOS (Free)

3. VSCO

VSCO is another popular photo editing app that lets you share your images to Instagram. However, the app also features its own photo sharing platform that makes it one of the Instagram alternatives for smartphone photographers.

Among its tools, VSCO includes multiple filters and adjustment tools. The app also lets you save specific adjustment “recipes” if you have a specific set of steps you like to apply to all your pictures. While most of the tools are available for free, VSCO does lock certain features behind a subscription.

Once you finish editing an image, you can publish it to the VSCO platform. However, you are also able to choose to share it with other platforms instead, including Instagram.

The main downside of VSCO is that you need to create an account to use the app. This can deter privacy-minded users and those who don’t want to have a bevy of accounts linked to their email.

Download: VSCO for Android | iOS (Free, with premium subscription available)

4. Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express has an impressive range of tools for photo editing, including filters, enhancements, and collage creation. After you’ve applied your various edits, you are able to share them to a variety of social networks and apps (including Instagram).

The app is mostly free, with a few premium features. However, you will need to sign in with a Google, Facebook, or Adobe account in order to use the Photoshop Express app.

One relatively unique feature of the app is the ability to choose the export size of your edited image. This gives you flexibility over how much quality and resolution you want to maintain.

Photoshop Express is a highly capable picture editing app. One setback though is that the Adobe app ecosystem does result in certain features being spread out across other app offerings such as Lightroom and Photoshop Fix. This means that no one Adobe app includes all of the editing features the software provider offers.

However, Photoshop Express appears to offer the widest range of functionality for free when compared to the other Adobe photo editing apps.

Download: Adobe Photoshop Express for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Pixlr

Pixlr combines many of the best features of photo editing apps into one central editor that can share to Instagram. Not only can you create collages and use interesting filters, but there are also fun tools like stickers and frames. Another nifty feature is the superimposition and double exposure feature.

The app also includes traditional tools such as smoothing, adjustments, auto-fixing, sharpening, and more. This very robust picture editing app even includes brush editing features like Snapseed, though with more limited adjustment options.

When you are done with your image, Pixlr offers you a range of sharing options that includes publishing it to Instagram.

Another perk of Pixlr is that it has a website that allows you to edit photos on your computer.

Download: Pixlr for Android | iOS (Free)

Why You Should Use Instagram Photo Editors

Instagram is a great app, but when it comes to really making your photos stand out, dedicated photo editing apps usually surpass the platform’s native capabilities.

If you’re not yet sold on the idea of using a standalone picture editor, here are our reasons to use photo editing apps over Instagram filters.

Read the full article: 5 Instagram Photo Editors to Create Better Pictures

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How to Relax—Stop Being Busy and Get Better Results (Free Ebook)

meditation-apps-relax

If you’re tired of feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, and chronically busy, this is the book for you.

All around us we see people in a constant hurry. Smartphones and laptops dominate our attention. We wear our “busyness” like a badge of honor. We neglect our friends and family in favor of work. Our ambitions are pushed aside simply so we can keep on top of the to-do list.

But escaping this vicious circle is possible.

How to Relax is a free ebook that will show you how to finally slow down, relax and get better results, all while doing less.

Download How to Relax For Free!

Stop Being Busy and Get Better Results Free Ebook

In this free ebook, you will finally learn how to combat busyness, and how to:

  • Step away from noise and the neck-breaking speed of the world around you
  • Recharge your overstressed mind and body
  • Deal with nagging, negative emotions
  • Utilize some of the most effective stress-reducing habits
  • And achieve a lot despite not being part of the overworked crowd!

In a world of constant distraction and always-on connectivity, slowing down and relaxing is a skill we must all develop, and this ebook will help you do exactly that.

Are you finally ready to regain control over your life? Simply click here to download How to Relax from TradePub. You will be required to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Read the full article: How to Relax—Stop Being Busy and Get Better Results (Free Ebook)

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Netflix’s High-Quality Audio Makes Streams Sound Better

The next time you watch something on Netflix you may notice it sounds better. This is thanks to Netflix’s new “high-quality audio”, which is designed to bring studio-quality sound to Netflix streams. Appeasing audiophiles everywhere.

Netflix Introduces High-Quality Audio

On The Netflix Blog, the company explains how high-quality audio was born. While reviewing Stranger Things 2 in a living room environment, Netflix realized that the sound wasn’t quite up to par. The engineers fixed it by delivering the sound at a higher bitrate.

The problem is higher bitrates require more bandwidth. So rather than trying to deliver the master recordings, which are 24-bit 48 kHz with a bitrate of around 1 Mbps per channel, Netflix figured out the optimum bitrates to balance quality and bandwidth requirements.

Netflix’s high-quality audio isn’t lossless but is “perceptually transparent”. Which makes it “indistinguishable from the original source.” Therefore, delivering audio at a higher bitrate would “take up more bandwidth without bringing any additional value”.

In terms of the numbers, the high-quality audio bitrate you’ll receive ranges from 192 kbps to 640 kbps (for 5.1), and from 448 kbps to 768 kbps (for Dolby Atmos). Netflix considers even the lowest bitrate of 192 kbps to represent “good audio”.

High Quality Audio Adapts to Your Network

As well as delivering better quality soundscapes, high-quality audio is adaptive. Until now, the quality of the audio you hear on Netflix has been set from when you start streaming. However, from now on, the sound will adapt to your network conditions.

This means that if you start streaming while you’re suffering from low internet speeds you won’t be stuck with that poor audio for the duration of the stream. Instead, if and when your speeds improve, the audio will improve with it, just as the video already does.

The overall result will be better potential sound quality that adapts to your network conditions. And if you want to delve deeper into the technology behind Netflix’s new high-quality audio and how adaptive streaming works, check out The Netflix Tech Blog.

Should You Pay More for Netflix?

While Netflix has annoyed users by upping the price regularly, high-quality audio makes it clear the company is investing heavily behind the scenes. And that’s on top of all the original content. This is why we think you should be happy to pay more for Netflix.

Image Credit: Lauri Rantala/Flickr

Read the full article: Netflix’s High-Quality Audio Makes Streams Sound Better

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5 Sites and Extensions to Tweak YouTube for a Better Experience

tweak-youtube

YouTube is awesome. It’s the best video-streaming website for general purpose videos, and it’s choc-a-bloc full of great features. But with a few tweaks, it can be even better.

The many problems with YouTube are well documented, from a comments section that often draws trolls and miscreants, to more benign annoyances like the cluttered and distracting interface. Most of these can be solved with the use of extensions and add-ons for a browser. Some of them require third-party websites, but it’s still easy to do.

1. Healthy Productive YouTube (Web): Remove Distractions, Focus on Good Content

healthy productive youtube removes distractions and focuses on content you like

YouTube can be a major source of distraction and an endless rabbit-hole in which you keep finding new things to watch. Healthy Productive YouTube is a simple userscript that seeks to fix that problem.

Userscripts are an easy option to customize how a website appears to you. You can use Stylish to install Healthy Productive YouTube in your browser. The script removes the “Trending” tab from the homepage and replaces it with content that you already subscribe to and want more of.

Similarly, it removes distractions like recommended videos, “Watch Next”, and the comments section, so that you are simply watching the video you came to watch, and don’t get involved in an argument with a stranger on the internet.

Download: Healthy Productive YouTube (Free)

2. Tune by Google (Chrome): AI to Remove Toxic Comments

Tune by google uses machine learning to remove toxic comments from YouTube

Google’s experimental think-tank Jigsaw released a new tool to combat the rise of toxic comments on the internet. Tune is a Chrome extension that promises to make comments more productive and positive.

Tune uses Perspective, a machine-learning tool that “reads” comments and figures out how they might affect the conversation. You can set Tune to show it all, blaring, loud, medium, low, or hide it all. In the settings, you can choose to filter only toxic comments or try the “experimental” filter which filters comments that are profane, sexually explicit, insulting, or identity attacks.

Tune works on more than just YouTube, and takes a little while to work on each page. After a video page loads, wait about 10 seconds before you scroll down to check the comments. Tune will have spruced things up by then.

The extension also works for several other comments-based sites on the internet, including Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter.

Download: Tune for Chrome (free)

3. Mirror The Video (Web): Flip Any Video Horizontally

YouTube is excellent for all kinds of demonstrative tutorials, whether it’s learning how to dance or someone showing you exercises. Mirror The Video makes these better by flipping the video horizontally.

What you see from a person’s demonstration on screen can be difficult to follow, since it’s an inverse image. When they are facing you and go right, you instinctively go left. A simple flip of the video will have them say “right” and mean your right.

Mirror The Video works fast to flip any YouTube clip. Simply change the “youtube.com” part of the video to “mirrorthevideo.com” and the app will take care of the rest.

4. Yout-ube (Web): Make Any Video Full-Screen, Ad-Free, and Repeat

Yout-ube makes any video fullscreen, ad-free, and plays it on repeat

YouTube has a lot of non-skippable ads that show up at the beginning, end, or even sometimes in the middle of a video. If you’d rather not have your experience ruined by these, just add a dash between the letters “t” and “u” in the URL, and press enter.

Yout-ube takes any video and turns it into a full-screen video without ads, and on endless repeat. Yout-ube also works with videos banned in your region, so you can use it as an effective bypass

The endless repeat part might not be particularly useful all the time, but if you have a clip that you need to keep showing for the duration of an event, this would be a quick and easy way to do it.

If you like this, you should also check out other awesome YouTube URL tricks.

5. Bookmark It (Chrome, Firefox): Add Bookmarks Within Videos

YouTube plays host to long videos, including full-length TV episodes, documentaries, and even full movies that you can watch legally and for free. Bookmark It lets you add bookmarks within the video, along with notes, so that you can quickly jump to that point.

After you install the extension and sign up, while watching any video, press “b” and add a note. The moment you press Enter, it’ll be automatically saved and the video resumes playing too. It’s perhaps the smoothest and most seamless way of saving points in a video, while still enjoying your viewing experience.

You can check out these bookmarks later on any browser, as Bookmark It syncs across computers by using your Google login.

Download: Bookmark It for Chrome | Firefox (Free)

The Best YouTube Extensions

These add-ons, web apps, and extensions are all about quick tweaks to make YouTube better. If you like these, there are a whole bunch more that you should check out.

Extensions and add-ons are the easiest way to make YouTube behave just the way you want it to. You will find a fix to almost every common problem, such as not having videos autoplay as soon as you open them, or pause videos when you switch to a new tab. You can install individual extensions for them, or all-in-one solutions.

Start with this list of the best Chrome extensions for YouTube, and then search the Chrome Web Store for any other aspects you want to tweak.

Read the full article: 5 Sites and Extensions to Tweak YouTube for a Better Experience

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10 Must-Have iPad Pro Accessories for an Even Better Experience

ipad-pro-accessories

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet. But to turn it into a fully-fledged productivity machine, you’ll need some accessories. That’s especially true if you’re trying to use the iPad Pro as your only computer. You might already know about the standard iPad accessories; the Smart Keyboard Folio, Apple Pencil 2, AirPods, and Apple’s array of adapters.

In this article, we’re going to focus solely on third-party options. These are the 10 best iPad Pro accessories you won’t find on Apple’s website.

1. PaperLike Screen Protector

Product image of the PaperLike Screen Protector for iPad Pro

PaperLike The Original for iPad Pro – Two Pack – Write, Draw and Sketch with The Apple Pencil Like on Paper – Roughness of Paper (11-inch) PaperLike The Original for iPad Pro – Two Pack – Write, Draw and Sketch with The Apple Pencil Like on Paper – Roughness of Paper (11-inch) Buy Now on Amazon $ 29.00

PaperLike is a screen protector specially designed to turn iPad’s glossy screen into a paper-like finish. Once PaperLike is applied, you’ll feel like you’re drawing on paper and not on a slippery screen. It adds the texture and friction of using a pencil on paper. It even makes a little sound as the Apple Pencil glides over the screen (like a real pencil does on paper).

If you’re using your iPad for drawing or illustration work with the Apple Pencil, PaperLike is a must have. It’s a game changer in terms of grip and control. Plus, it does the job of a regular screen protector. It will protect your iPad from scratches, and the matte surface will reduce reflections as well. To enhance the experience, you may want to use some of the best apps for Apple Pencil.

2. Sparin Glass Screen Protector

Sparin Glass Screen Protector for iPad Pro

[2 Pack] Screen Protector for iPad Pro 11, SPARIN Tempered Glass Screen Protector Works with FACE ID – Apple Pencil Compatible/Highly Responsive [2 Pack] Screen Protector for iPad Pro 11, SPARIN Tempered Glass Screen Protector Works with FACE ID – Apple Pencil Compatible/Highly Responsive Buy Now on Amazon $ 10.99

The new design of the iPad Pro makes it more likely to slip from your hands. It’s best to add a glass screen protector and save a couple of hundred dollars of screen replacement cost. Sparin’s glass screen protector will do the job.

It’s an ultra-thin tempered glass protector, coming in at 9H hardness scale. It has a cutout for the Face ID system and works flawlessly with the Apple Pencil.

3. ESR Yippee Magnetic Smart Case

Product image of the Yippee iPad Pro Magnetic Case

ESR Yippee Magnetic Smart Case for The iPad Pro 11″ 2018, [Support Apple Pencil Charging] Trifold Stand Case, Magnetic Attachment, Auto Sleep/Wake, Rubberized Cover for The iPad Pro 11″ 2018, Black ESR Yippee Magnetic Smart Case for The iPad Pro 11″ 2018, [Support Apple Pencil Charging] Trifold Stand Case, Magnetic Attachment, Auto Sleep/Wake, Rubberized Cover for The iPad Pro 11″ 2018, Black Buy Now on Amazon $ 19.99

ESR Yippee’s Magnetic Smart Case gives you a stylish magnetic folio for a fifth of Apple’s price. Just like Apple’s official option, you can change Apple Pencil on the top, use it at multiple angles, wake up the iPad by opening the case and more.

4. Logitech Keys-To-Go

Product image of the Logitech Keys-To-Go Keyboard for iPad Pro

Logitech Keys-to-Go Ultra-Portable, Stand-Alone Keyboard COMPATIBLE DEVICES all iOS devices including iPad, iPhone and Apple TV 920-006701 Logitech Keys-to-Go Ultra-Portable, Stand-Alone Keyboard COMPATIBLE DEVICES all iOS devices including iPad, iPhone and Apple TV 920-006701 Buy Now on Amazon $ 49.95

If you’re not going to be using the keyboard regularly, it might not make sense to spend close to $ 200 on Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio. You can get a similar writing experience at a quarter of the price using a third party keyboard.

Logitech’s Keys-To-Go is an ultra slim keyboard. It looks like a cross between Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Microsoft’s Surface Keyboard. It’s as thin as Apple’s option, comes with iOS-style keyset, and is available in multiple colors. It’s even made out of a similar fabric skin. This means you can easily wipe off anything you spill on it.

There’s a built-in stand where you can prop up the iPad. And from some angles, it’s hard to tell Keys-To-Go apart from Apple’s offering. The only downside is that the keyboard charges over micro-USB and not USB-C.

5. Anker PowerPort II Fast Charger

Product image of the Anker 30W Fast Charging Port for iPad Pro

USB C Charger, Anker PowerPort II UL Certified 49.5W Wall Charger with Foldable Plug, One 30W Power Delivery Port for MacBook Air/iPad Pro 2018, iPhone XS/Max/XR/X/8/8+, PowerIQ 2.0 for S9/S8 and More USB C Charger, Anker PowerPort II UL Certified 49.5W Wall Charger with Foldable Plug, One 30W Power Delivery Port for MacBook Air/iPad Pro 2018, iPhone XS/Max/XR/X/8/8+, PowerIQ 2.0 for S9/S8 and More Buy Now on Amazon $ 29.99

Sadly, the iPad Pro doesn’t come with a fast charger in the box. While the iPad Pro has a 10-hour battery life, you can deplete it much quicker if you’re using it for video or photo editing. This is where a fast charger will come in handy.

Anker’s PowerPort II features a 30W USB-C Power Delivery port for fast charging. There’s also an extra USB-A port to charge your iPhone.

6. Elevation Lab DraftTable Kit

Product image of the DraftTable Kit for iPad Pro

DraftTable for iPad Pro (Stand only) – Adjustable Stand for iPad Pro, Designed for Professionals and Designers DraftTable for iPad Pro (Stand only) – Adjustable Stand for iPad Pro, Designed for Professionals and Designers Buy Now on Amazon $ 49.95

Elevation Labs’s DraftTable is a must-have for designers. The collapsible stand makes the iPad Pro more ergonomic to work on. Using the DraftTable, you can put the iPad up at an angle that’s suitable for long hours of drawing or editing work.

For $ 20 extra, you can choose to buy the DraftTable Kit. Along with the stand, you’ll also get an armrest and a special stand for your Apple Pencil.

7. Ergonomic Stand by BackPainHelp

Product image of the Ergonomic Stand for iPad Pro

Portable Folding Laptop Stand and Standing Desk Converter. Portable and foldable (Black) with free mouse stand Portable Folding Laptop Stand and Standing Desk Converter. Portable and foldable (Black) with free mouse stand Buy Now on Amazon $ 74.99

Finding the right ergonomic posture with a laptop or desktop is much easier than with a tablet. You can’t just hold it up for hours at end, neither can you hunch over a table all day. This is where the Ergonomic Stand from BackPainHelp comes in.

It is an expandable stand that folds completely flat. You can adjust the viewing angles as you please to elevate the iPad to the angle that’s right for you. Because it’s adjustable, you can use it while sitting on the sofa or at your desk. You can even use it to create a standing desk setup for the iPad Pro.

8. Zugu Muse Case

Product Image of the Zugu Muse Case for iPad Pro

The Muse Case – 2018 iPad Pro 11 inch (New Model) – Very Protective But Thin + Convenient Magnetic Stand + Sleep/Wake Cover (Black) – ZUGU CASE The Muse Case – 2018 iPad Pro 11 inch (New Model) – Very Protective But Thin + Convenient Magnetic Stand + Sleep/Wake Cover (Black) – ZUGU CASE Buy Now on Amazon $ 59.99

Zugu has been making some of the most versatile iPad cases over the past couple of years, and the Zugu Muse Case for the 2018 iPad Pro is no exception. It comes with a cutout for charging the Apple Pencil, and it has a little pouch for it when you’re not using it.

The case has eight magnetically adjustable angles (a far cry from the two angle setup of Apple’s iPad Pro case) and features a rugged TPU bumper which protects the iPad from accidental drops.

9. Uni USB-C SD Card Reader

Product image of the Uni Micro SD Card Reader for iPad Pro USB-C

USB C to SD/MicroSD Card Reader, uni USB Type C[Thunderbolt 3] SD Adapter Compatible for MacBook Pro, MacBook, iPad Pro/MacBook Air 2018, Samsung Galaxy S9/S8, Surface Book 2 and More – Gray USB C to SD/MicroSD Card Reader, uni USB Type C[Thunderbolt 3] SD Adapter Compatible for MacBook Pro, MacBook, iPad Pro/MacBook Air 2018, Samsung Galaxy S9/S8, Surface Book 2 and More – Gray Buy Now on Amazon $ 14.99

If you’re a photographer and you’re planning to use the iPad Pro for editing photos, you’ll need an SD Card adaptor. Uni makes one of best SD Card readers, and it officially supports the new iPad Pro.

The Uni USB-C SD card reader is compatible with SD, SDHC, SDXC, MicroSD, MicroSDHC, and Micro SDXC cards. Just pop in the SD card, connect the USB-C cable and the iPad will instantly launch the Photos app with the Import feature. You can tap to select the photos or videos you want to import. Once the transfer is done, you can delete them from the SD card as well.

10. Satechi Aluminum USB-C Hub

Product image of the Satechi USB-C Hub for iPad Pro

Satechi Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub Adapter with USB-C PD Charging, 4K HDMI, USB 3.0 & 3.5mm Headphone Jack – Compatible with 2018 iPad Pro, Microsoft Surface Go and More (Space Gray) Satechi Aluminum Type-C Mobile Pro Hub Adapter with USB-C PD Charging, 4K HDMI, USB 3.0 & 3.5mm Headphone Jack – Compatible with 2018 iPad Pro, Microsoft Surface Go and More (Space Gray) Buy Now on Amazon $ 59.99

Most USB-C hubs and adaptors in the market will work with the new iPad Pro. But because of their short cables, they’re unwieldy to use with the device propped up. Satechi now has an Aluminum USB-C Hub specially designed for the iPad Pro.

Just plug the hub into the iPad, and you’ll have access to an HDMI port, USB-A port, SD card reader, and a USB-C port. It’s important to note that the USB-C port is for charging only. The HDMI port supports monitors with up to 4K resolution at 30Hz.

Satechi’s USB-C Hub is also a great solution for older or legacy devices. If you have older accessories you want to connect, then this is the solution for you. However, it’s not designed for adding multiple USB-C devices to the iPad Pro.

Transform Your iPad Pro and Go Even Further

The iPad transforms when you add useful accessories. Alongside the Apple Pencil, a keyboard is a must have for the new iPad Pro. Although there are many choices, in the end, you should choose the keyboard that’s right for you.

Once you’re all set up with your new keyboard, you’ll want to use the most useful smart keyboard tips and tricks for iPad Pro. If you can get the hang of the keyboard shortcuts in iOS and for specific apps, your productivity will increase dramatically.

Read the full article: 10 Must-Have iPad Pro Accessories for an Even Better Experience

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Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Which Is Better?

android-tv-chromecast

YouTube Music and Google Play Music. Allo and Hangouts. Google Plus and Orkut. Google loves to duplicate its apps and services. The situation is no different for cord cutters and streamers: one company, two completely different solutions.

So, if you’re wondering whether you should buy a Google Chromecast or an Android TV device, keep reading. In this article we pitch the Google Chromecast vs. Android TV to help you determine which one you should buy.

What Is Android TV?

Android TV is the television version of the smartphone operating system. It launched in mid-2014, 12 months later than the Chromecast.

Like the smartphone OS, there’s not a single version of the Android TV platform. Lots of manufacturers have added their own customizations, and there are dozens of Android TV dongles and set-top boxes on the market.

Android TV also powers some smart TVs from manufacturers such as Hisense, Asus, Sharp, and Sony. Google does not produce any in-house Android TV equipment.

Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Cost

android tv aliexpress

The cost of Chromecast dongles is easy to quantify. The entry-level model costs $ 35 and the Chromecast Ultra (which supports 4K video) will set you back $ 69.

Which it comes to Android TV, the situation is considerably more complicated. Because there’s not a single Android TV model, prices can vary wildly.

Fair warning—there are a lot of cheap Android TV boxes flooding the market. Some no-brand Chinese devices can be found for less than $ 20 on sites like AliExpress. Give them a wide berth.

However, some cheap Android TV boxes are worth recommending. They include the Xiaomi Mi (around $ 50), the MXQ Android Box ($ 35), and even a DIY Raspberry Pi solution.

At the other end of the scale, the best-in-class is still the Nvidia Shield. You can buy the 16GB model for $ 180 and the 500GB version for $ 300. Confusingly, both Nvidia Shield models come with Chromecast built-in.

Read our list of the best Android TV boxes for more details.

Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Interface

android tv interface

If you’re the type of person who likes to immerse yourself in an operating system, a Chromecast dongle might not be right for you.

Chromecasts do not have a user interface. Instead, you cast content from your phone, tablet, or computer (via Chrome).

Some apps are Chromecast-enabled; they have a dedicated Cast button which will replicate their visual and audio output on your TV screen. Alternatively, you can mirror your device’s entire screen, but that requires your phone’s screen to remain on, thus chewing through the battery.

Android TV devices have a dedicated user interface that you can control using a remote or a smartphone app. Rather than installing apps on your computer or mobile, you install standalone apps directly on the Android TV device.

Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Apps

Most of the big players (think Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, etc.) have apps available for the Android TV platform and also make their smartphone apps Chromecast-enabled.

The notable exception is Amazon Prime Video. There’s an Android TV app available, but you cannot easily cast the video to a Chromecast.

There are a few workarounds which let you watch Amazon Prime Video on a Chromecast, but they are not ideal.

Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Sideloading

Android TV boxes have access to a special version of the Google Play Store. Unfortunately, the selection of apps available is nowhere near as diverse as in the regular smartphone version of the store.

Thankfully, you can negate the issue by sideloading apps on Android TV. If you can get hold of an app’s APK file (check sites like APKPure and APKMirror to see if you can find it), you can install any Android app on the operating system, and it will work.

The biggest drawback to sideloading apps is navigation. Because the apps have not been altered for the Android TV platform, your device’s remote might not work. If your Android TV box has a USB port, you can plug in a mouse. If it doesn’t, you can try pairing your box with a Bluetooth-enabled gaming controller.

Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Games

If you’re a gamer, Android TV devices are the clear winner. Just make sure you don’t try to save a few bucks by buying an underpowered box.

If you want to use a Chromecast for gaming, you’ll still need to use your mobile device for the controls. That awkwardness, paired with the occasional lag you’ll encounter between your phone and your TV, makes it unsuitable for any fast-paced game. However, more sedate games, like Solitaire or quizzes, will be fine.

In contrast, many Android TV devices can be paired with gaming controllers. If you buy a high-spec box—such as the previously-mentioned Nvidia Shield—you might even find that a gaming controller comes included in the box.

The Android TV version of the Google Play Store hosts a wide variety of popular games, including Grand Theft Auto, Asphalt 8: Airborne, and Badland.

Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Longevity

chromecast and google home

It’s fair to question whether Chromecasts have a long-term future in Google’s product line-up.

Yes, they were revolutionary back in 2013 when they brought on-demand internet video streaming to the masses for the first time, but they increasingly look like a technology from yesteryear.

All the Chromecast’s competitors—Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and Roku—offer a more holistic service for cord cutters. And as we’ve seen from the Nvidia Shield, it’s perfectly possible to bolt Chromecast’s screen mirroring features onto the Android TV OS for on-the-fly casting. The devices from Roku, Apple, and Amazon also all offer their own version of screen mirroring.

We’re not sure what’s preventing Google simply putting the Android TV operating system into a Chromecast-sized dongle and offering it at a similar price point. It’s likely to happen at some point.

Android TV and Kodi Boxes

You’ve probably heard of Kodi boxes. They are set-top devices that automatically launch Kodi upon boot, allowing you to easily access all your content. In simple terms, they turn Kodi into a smart TV operating system.

Although it’s not strictly essential (you could use a Raspberry Pi), almost all Kodi boxes run on Android TV. It’s also the operating system of choice for all those illegal (and they ARE illegal) “fully loaded” Kodi boxes you see popping up on eBay.

We’ve rounded up some of the best Kodi boxes on the market if you would like to learn more.

Google Assistant and Your Smart Home

Chromecasts are not smart devices. You cannot use them to control third-party smart home products around your home. You will need to use your phone’s Google Home app, which is a bit of an effort when you just want to turn off a light.

In contrast, an increasing number of mid-range and top-end Android TV devices now come with Google Assistant built in. As we know, the smart assistant offers an array of smart home integrations, entertainment options, and productivity tools. If you enjoy the benefits of voice control, an Android TV box is the way to go.

What About the Amazon Fire TV?

Don’t forget that Amazon Fire TV devices run their own customized version of Android TV. Sure, it’s unrecognizable from the vanilla operating system, but it still qualifies.

If you want more information, we’ve previously explained what Amazon Fire TV is and how it works.

Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: The Winner Is…

Everything else being equal, the clear winner is Android TV. It has more features, it’s just as easy to use, its future looks more certain, and it’s more flexible. But don’t write off the Chromecast completely.

If you want a highly portable device that’ll work in hotels, for business presentations, and at other people’s houses, they are the best option on the market. They’re also a cost-effective choice for secondary TVs in your home such as in bedrooms and kitchens.

Of course, you could also consider a Roku device. And if you need to know how the Roku stacks up against the Chromecast we have previously written a comparison of Chromecast and Roku.

Read the full article: Android TV vs. Google Chromecast: Which Is Better?

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