Google And Netflix Want To Destroy AirPlay With DIAL

airplayisdeadmaybe

One of the best things about owning an Apple TV is the ability to share everything on your Mac’s screen with the flatscreen in your living room. It works perfectly. If there’s video on the Internet that you can’t find on one of the Apple TV apps, you don’t have to worry about it; you just screen share and enjoy.

Google and Netflix are tired of Apple having all the fun with wireless video streaming between devices, so they’ve brewed up their own solution to compete with AirPlay. The new protocol is called DIAL, and like Android, it’s free and already has some big companies backing it.

DIAL stands for “DIsovery And Launch” and Samsung, Sony, Hulu, and the BBC are all eager to support it. It’s a simple protocol that 2nd screen devices (like a smartphone) can use to discover and launch apps on 1st screen devices (like your TV, set-top box, or Blu-ray player). It’s pretty similar to AirPlay in that it can detect compatible devices in the area and open up a connection between the two to start streaming video.

GigaOM has a great synopsis of how DIAL will be used in the real world:

With DIAL, the Netflix app on your phone will automatically discover that there is a device with a Netflix app connected to your TV. It will fire up that app, and then the two apps are free to do whatever they want — which presumably involves some healthy binge-viewing.

But what you really want to know is whether DIAL is better than AirPlay, right? Well that’s a little bit difficult to say. DIAL makes it easier to get Netflix streaming on your TV when you’re browsing it on your smartphone, but with AirPlay you can stream any video from your MacBook to your TV. DIAL will be supported by more companies on more devices than AirPlay is, but if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem that’s probably not an issue.

Right now it doesn’t look like DIAL actually supports screen sharing, but maybe that’s in the works. Of course, with AirPlay you need to buy Apple’s hobby TV for $99 to get video onto your flatscreen, so there is a barrier to entry, whereas many Samsung, LG and Sony TVs from 2012 and onward can support DIAL with a software update.

While AirPlay and DIAL compete in the same arena, they both have separate skills that make for valuable tools. Apple and Google could add those missing skills to DIAL and AirPlay to make them even, and we wouldn’t be surprised if that happens over the next 12 months. But then again, Apple might unveil their own HDTV this year that absolutely destroys DIAL. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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  • RickC

    Still some things you can’t watch on the big screen that originate on the iPad or iPhone. HBO GO and MAX GO will not stream and can’t be mirrored; you get an on screen apology that this feature is not yet available.

  • STORMLIGHT

    Destroy? What is it with the choice of words by bloggers? Im pretty sure that google would like to have an native airplay like technology but can’t or don’t want to bake in apples even if they would license it.

  • ProblemWithField

    I love my Apple products, however I do think Apple needs to start thinking more openly, they did so with iTunes how many years ago, but haven’t released an Android version of iTunes? Silly, the windows iTunes is what got people that were not into Macs at least curious, along with the ability to then use an iPod on a Win box. I feel they need to update their thoughts on things like Airplay, again on iTunes and also iMessage. for iTunes just make a free android app so that people once again are pulled into the Apple eco system, then sell an Airplay and iMessage app for the Android and Win 8. It brings people into the eco system, that normally wouldn’t be part of it, as well as brings income back to Apple. I also feel Apple needs to start supporting all video and audio formats out of the box.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Social Media Editor. Hailing from Roswell, New Mexico, but now spending his days in Phoenix, Arizona, he wastes most of his time eating burritos and reading Spanish romance novels. Twitter: @bst3r.

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