Google (s GOOG) will bring AirPlay-like functionality to its Google TV platform, allowing users to play and control media directly from their Android tablet or handset, GigaOM has learned. The functionality will first be available via Google’s YouTube app, but the company wants to eventually open it up to third-party app developers as well.
There have been numerous attempts to turn mobile phones and tablets into remote controls, capable of flinging content straight from the second screen to the TV, but Apple’s (s AAPL) AirPlay has so far proven to be most successful: AirPlay users can beam content from many apps straight to an Apple TV or any AirPlay-certified speakers. However, users need to have an iOS device to make use of AirPlay.
Google now wants to offer Android owners similar features, and it has been testing out some of that functionality in the wild: The Nexus Q, Google’s recently-launched music streaming device, already features a “play on” button that makes it possible to switch the audio output of the Google Music app from any Android mobile device to a Nexus Q on the same network. The same functionality is also available within YouTube and for movies and TV shows purchased or rented from Google Play.
This “play on” button will also come to Google TV in the coming months. I was first told about these plans by Google TV VP of Product Management Mario Queiroz during a conversation at the company’s I/O developer conference, and have since learned a few more interesting details.
Check out AirPlay-like media playback on the Nexus Q in our video review of the device, or continue reading below.
I’ve since been told that Google TV users will definitely be able to use this to play YouTube videos soon. There’s no word on support for other Google apps yet, but the company wants to eventually make it available to third-party developers as well. That means that developers of media apps like doubleTwist or SnagFilms would be able to add a “play on” button to their own apps and in turn enable their users to beam content to Google TV devices.
Google has increasingly been focusing on a better second-screen experience for Google TV. The company put a big emphasis on second-screen apps at Google I/O, and app makers like Peel have been making use of Google’s second-screen protocols to directly control Google TV devices from within their apps. However, to date, developers still have to individually link their app to a Google TV device within the same network – a somewhat tedious process that can in some cases involve manually entering IP addresses.
With the new functionality, this linking process is presumably done on the system level or through a separate Google app, just as it is the case with the Nexus Q. That would mean that consumers just have to link their mobile device to their Google TV once, after which the functionality would be available to any app that makes use of it. This kind of simplicity has been key to AirPlay’s success on iOS.
AirPlay-like functionality could also help Google to make more content available on Google TV. Media services like Spotify wouldn’t have to build a TV-specific app optimized for a 10-foot experience, but could instead just use their subscribers’ mobile phones or tablets to stream their content to any Google TV device.