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Summary:

YouTube recently launched AirPlay-like video beaming for Google TV and Android devices, but Google plans to take the technology much further. The company is working on an alternative to AirPlay, which it wants to bring to third-party devices and services – a clear shot at Apple.

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Google is working on an open alternative to Apple’s AirPlay, and it’s hoping to bring a number of device and software vendors on board to provide the industry with an open technology to exchange data between second screens and TV-connected devices. YouTube unveiled the first implementation of this technology last week, when it launched AirPlay-like video beaming from Android phones and tablets to Google TV devices. But Google product manager Timbo Drayson made it clear during a conversation I had with him a few days ago that this is just the first step. “We really want to move the whole industry forward,” he said.

Google representatives have been talking about bringing an AirPlay-like experience to Google TV for some time, and the company has also worked for years on a closer connection between Android mobile phones and YouTube apps on a variety of smart TV platforms. YouTube first unveiled a YouTube Remote control app two years ago, and then integrated the same remote control functionality into its main YouTube app last year. Both apps allowed users to start the playback of YouTube videos from their phones. But the downside was that the devices first had to be paired by entering a nine-digit code.

It’s been a long time coming

The YouTube app on Google TV prompts users to try its new mobile phone capabilities. But Google TV is just the beginning for Google’s second screen ambitions.

Google took the next step with its ill-fated Nexus Q this summer. The Android-based media streamer, which was shelved before it even went on sale, could be auto-discovered by Android handsets within the same network. That sounds like a small feature, but it’s been key to the success of Apple’s AirPlay technology.

iPad and iPhone users have been able to beam content to their Apple TV without the need for any configuration for some time. It’s arguably one of the reasons why Apple TV sells so well: Apple sold 5.3 million units of the device in its fiscal year 2012, which makes it by far the best-selling video streaming box. One could also argue that AirPlay-like functionality is one of the key features that’s been missing from Android to successfully compete with the iPad.

Google took a page from Apple’s playbook when it rolled out its own AirPlay-like remote control feature for YouTube on Google TV last week. The company has since launched a dedicated micro-site to promote the feature, showing how serious it is taking second screen control. But it is not stopping there. Drayson told me that Google is “actively working with other companies” to turn this into an open standard, which could be used on other platforms and for other apps as well.

Second-screen apps and laptop screen sharing

And it’s not just about remote control functionality and beaming a video from your mobile phone to the TV we are talking about. The new protocol makes it possible for data to flow in both directions, Drayson explained, which would enable developers to build second-screen experiences that correspond to what’s happening on live TV as well. Also on the roadmap: beaming content from your laptop to your TV screen.

Google isn’t the first one to work on an alternative to AirPlay. In fact, the widest-supported AirPlay alternative actually predates Apple’s protocol: The Digital Living Network Alliance launched in 2003 to bring content sharing to the living room. It’s DLNA protocol has been widely adopted by numerous players, with a total of 500 devices supporting DLNA today. However, the actual level of support varies widely, and many manufacturers have opted to roll out their own branded solutions on top of DLNA – but even those see little use from consumers.

That’s why a key goal of Google’s AirPlay antidote would be consumer education. The more companies participated in these efforts, the better, said Drayson.

  1. Recently? I had DLNA on an Android device in 2010!

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    1. But how many apps on your Android device make use of it?

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      1. Very few, and I’m not holding my breath thinking that Google is going to fix that.

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    2. Where’s the Q?

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    3. DLNA is nothing like the same thing. I’m surprised it’s taken Google this long as it has been a feature crying out for open standard since Apple released it. Airplay simply rocks.

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  2. Good luck with that. Google’s failed to make Google TV anything special and the Nexus Q was an unmitigated disaster. Google’s beyond their core competency here. They understand web technology and advertising. They keep forgetting that they don’t know media and YouTube doesn’t count (they’ve already mucked that up with forced ads). I wouldn’t hold my breath on waiting for other companies to join Google after what happened to Logitech (took a bath) and other vendors for Google TV.

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    1. Ain’t that the truth Ruth! Miss Google stick to what u know honey!

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    2. Funny they manage cloud data and cloud apps much better than Apple does. You say advertising but Google rule in search because of their search technology backed up with inhouse server hardware, their own file system and custom version of Linux. Google TV is no better or worse than Apple TV, they both are not going very far yet.
      I would think betting against Google is a silly presumption, I’m sure you would have been the first to say they had no experience with maps before Google Earth now they are number 1.

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      1. > Google TV is no better or worse than Apple TV

        Seriously?

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      2. AirPlay is what makes the AppleTV. In my house it might as well be an airplay box.

        And we love it. We’d really miss if it was gone.

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      3. “Google TV is no better or worse than Apple TV, they both are not going very far yet.”

        Are you serious? Apple pulls in more on their “beloved hobby” as Google does in their entire Android mobile effort. GoogleTV is light years behind Apple TV.

        Betting against Apple is not a smart thing. I bet you were one of those that wrote them off for dead 10 years ago and now they are worth more than MS, Google, Dell and Hp combined.

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  3. chiranjeevkumar Monday, November 19, 2012

    Another testing from Google. Let’s see how it comes.

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  4. dinakaranonline Monday, November 19, 2012

    I thought Miracast was the agreed standard , AirPlay Rival was supported by Android and Google whole heartedly in it’s latest Jelly Bean 4.2 and in Nexus 4. So what is the need for this ?

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    1. Miracast is just about screencasting / mirroring… the new YouTube second screen experience on Google TV doesn’t mirror your handset, just controls the output. That makes it possible to scour for new content… which makes a lot more sense, if you ask me.

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      1. dinakaranonline Monday, November 19, 2012

        Oh ok , then the heading is bit misleading. It is not an alternative to AirPlay.

        I think there are few apps already to do this sourcing of content and playing it to the screen via DLNA. MediaShare is one am aware of which pretty much does the same I guess.

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      2. Miracast is definitely not just about screen mirroring, it provides a second screen and the application level code can (with the right SDK) decide what goes where.

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  5. They are just copycats.
    First they copied Siri, now they copy AirPlay, third they will copy something else.
    Google is boring.

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    1. DLNA predated Airplay by a number of years, Apple refused to join the DLNA so they could stay proprietary. Android had voice control before Siri, Apple licensed the tech behind Siri from Nuance, they didn’t invent any of it.

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      1. DNLA only streams video or audio files.

        AirPlay does full screen mirroring or extended desktop/second display. It’s what allows Real Racing HD to have dashboard controls on the iPad and view out the windscreen on your big plasma.

        Big difference.

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      2. > Apple refused to join the DLNA so they could stay proprietary

        They refused to join DLNA because they wanted to create something that was indisputably better.

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    2. “First they copied Siri”

      You’ve gotta be shitting me. Did Gruber send you here?

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  6. dinakaranonline Monday, November 19, 2012

    “The new protocol makes it possible for data to flow in both directions, Drayson explained, which would enable developers to build second-screen experiences that correspond to what’s happening on live TV as well ”

    But this is not possible with DLNA !

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  7. Well but there is airplay for android I think. It’s called zapstreak. Dunno thy google is tryng to reinvent the wheel.

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  8. Interesting that you don’t mention HTC’s nearly year-old use of DLNA and their HTC Connect software in their latest phones to provide users with the equivalent of AirPlay when used with Pioneer audio/video products.

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    1. DLNA has been available for Android for the past 4 years – I know I have been using it.

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      1. DLNA only streams video or audio files.

        AirPlay does full screen mirroring or extended desktop/second display. It’s what allows Real Racing HD to have dashboard controls on the iPad and view out the windscreen on your big plasma.

        Big difference.

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    2. That’s the problem this is trying to solve. There is HTC Connect and Samsung AllShare and who knows what else. Each company has had to implement this separately and it only works with a select few devices. If this becomes a successful standard then all Android devices will have it and hardware vendors will only need to support one standard to work will all of them.

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  9. Matt Rutkowski: There’s zapstreak, a sdk. Are there any apps that would use it ?

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