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Summary:

The SDK makes it relatively simple for Android apps to stream content to any DLNA-enabled device, from TV sets to stereos. Next up? Similar SDKs for Windows Phone 8 and iOS.

Zapstreak

When Google launched its AirPlay-rivalling YouTube video-beaming functionality earlier this month, it was a welcome development, but one that felt a little incomplete. I have to have Google TV? Eh.

And don’t get me started on the approach taken by companies like Samsung and LG who reckon that, once you’ve bought their TV set, you’ll stick to their brand for handsets just so you can get easy streaming from one to the other. Most people don’t think like that, so hardly anyone uses the functionality. What a waste of the connectivity built into these TVs.

All of which is why I rather like the idea of Zapstreak‘s SDK, which has just come out of beta. I love the idea of pairing up the mobile device and television set – I want to use the zippy apps on my phone or tablet, not the clunky efforts built into my so-called smart TV – but I don’t want to be hemmed into some artificially walled garden. Miracast goes part of the way here, but even there you need special chips on either side.

The cool thing with Zapstreak’s SDK is that it allows Android apps to communicate with a wide variety of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, from TVs to gaming consoles and hi-fis – Zapstreak essentially provides a layer on top of the increasingly ubiquitous but severely underused DLNA standard, so anything that has that built in will work.

Variety

Zapstreak is a Polish company that’s had its SDK in beta since April, during which time it says it’s had around 100 developers giving active feedback. Here’s what co-founder Stefan Bielau has to say about that experience:

“It took a bit longer because there were various use cases on the way that we didn’t expect. For example we had a company from the U.S. that’s selling hearing aids and they have an app which is a text-to-voice app. They were interested in extending this setup for someone who doesn’t want to wear the hearing aid all the time at home, to listen to stuff through their home entertainment system.”

That’s a relatively obscure use case, though. A far easier one to grasp is this: imagine, as an Android user, visiting a friend with an Apple TV unit and streaming content from your handset to that receiver. According to Bielau, that can be done.

What’s more – and this may give the firm an answer to Google’s promised open protocol for streaming from Android devices – Zapstreak is also gearing up to release SDKs for Windows Phone 8 and iOS by the end of this year. Apple’s T&Cs don’t forbid doing that, Bielau noted, but Zapstreak’s going to check with Apple before it deploys anyway – this should be amusing, as it would theoretically mean the ability to stream from an iOS device to any DLNA-equipped TV without the need for Apple TV.

Developers using the SDK will need to pay Zapstreak $29 a month per dev account, rather than per app. However, Bielau said his team is considering making this a per-OS payment, once the Windows Phone 8 and iOS SDKs are out. Still, it’s pretty cheap, and the company’s also offering a 30-day free trial for developers who sign up early.

Interestingly, Bielau suggested that Zapstreak may over time evolve into a consultancy of sorts. The company is picking up some valuable data as developers use its SDK, such as information about which handsets are being used to cast to which TV models. This, he reckons reasonably, is something the OEMs might want to know.

  1. I don’t think the YouTube functionality is rivaling Airplay. This is a part of Lean back and it wasn’t exactly “launched” last month. Seems the tech media is confused on this. You could already do this with combinations of YouTube playing devices like a phone and Xbox 360. I think they just added it to Google TV or it came out of beta.

    Its solely about controlling your streamed YouTube content on one device from another. It has nothing to do with streaming local content yet the tech media insists on comparing it to Apple. Local content is handled by DLNA which was around before Airplay and the new Miracast standard. Sometimes you all really should come up for air and look around.

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  2. Alexey Eremenko Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Miracast is a crap; It does not allow streaming from your Android device to your TV *and* watch YouTube over WiFi at the same time. Either YouTube -or- TV streaming, not both.

    Are you aware of this limitation ?

    -Alexey “Technologov”, Nov.2012.

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  3. I’ve been doing this for 6 months with AirTight app on Google TV using my iOS devices. Now I have AirPlay sending PlexMedia Server from iOS to Google TV or my Blackberry Playbook tablet. it is all getting interesting. I appreciate AirPlay’s lack of configuration but wish it was an open standard. Hopefully this SDK approach spreads and creates univeral ability. What is more interesting is the whole second screen concept. Kontact.tv is doing some interesting work in this area. Once it is truly device agnostic, I could see some great applications being developed. I don’t only want to stream video from my device (limited really), I want to share my screen, control my TV, and interact with others as we watch the content on the TV. It would be great for gaming, surveys, audience participation, social media etc. Going from smartphone or tablet to the bigger screen seemlessly seems to be the direction that this is all heading.

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    1. Nice information can you stream from your Airtight app using and Galaxy s3 phone to a receiver that has Airplay? Example use my itunes and stream a song to my receiver?

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