A few months ago, a developer source told me that Google (s GOOG) planned to release apps for its Chromecast streaming stick in waves. Well, guess what: The first wave is here, and it’s a massive one: Chromecast got support for local media playback, podcasts, Facebook (S FB) photos and more Tuesday, thanks to newly-added support for apps from Plex, RealPlayer (S RNWK) Cloud, Vevo, Viki and others.
Chromecast users will be especially happy about local file playback, a feature that had been requested ever since the device launched in July. Now, there are multiple options available, including the popular media center app Plex.
The makers of Plex had long expressed interest in Chromecast, but never actually announced that they were going to add support for it. However, we reported last week that a user had found Chromecast configuration files within Plex, suggesting that support was imminent.
Now, Plex is adding Chromecast support to its iOS, (S AAPL) Android and web apps, all of which offer access to local content, online video channels and personal media backed up to the cloud. For now, only casting of video is supported, but support for music and photos is promised for the near future. Also, Plex is initially only giving paying PlexPass members access to Chromecast capabilities, but the company usually releases these kinds of features to everyone soon after.
However, Plex isn’t the only option to cast local or personal media. Another app added to the Chromecast roster Tuesday is aVia, a media player for Android that allows users to beam videos, photos and music from their mobile device or any local DLNA server, including network-attached storage drives, to Chromecast. Also clever: aVia indexes photos on Picasa, Dropbox and Facebook, allowing users to show any of their photos on any of these services on their TV. However, Chromecast support is only available to users of the paid version of aVia.
And there’s one more option for personal media: RealNetworks added Chromecast to its RealPlayer Cloud Tuesday, which is the company’s new cloud storage and playback offering for all your mobile media. Chromecast users can now use it to cast videos from iOS, Android and the web. Users who are logged into the same account can also play content from other devices in the same network, and for example use their iPad to cast videos stored on their phone.
In addition to these three apps, Chromecast also added support for the Android podcast player app BeyondPod, the Washington Post’s PostTV, online music service Songza, RedbullTV, Revision3, VEVO and Viki, the international TV platform that is now owned by Japan’s Rakuten.
Check out screenshots from some of the apps in our gallery below: