If you've been longing for an Android answer to Apple's AirPlay, which takes what you see on an iPhone or iPad and mirrors it onto your big screen television, then you may not have to wait much longer. In an unlikely alliance, YouTube and Netflix are set to launch DIAL (discovery and launch), which is a protocol that helps developers of second-screen apps to discover and launch applications on smart TVs and connected devices. The two have been working on DIAL for months and it has seen support from the likes of Samsung, Sony, Hulu and the BBC.
Android users with Google TV may already be familiar with Youtube's "second screen" app or the ability to send content to your TV via the Google remote option which was seen in early stages going back to 2010 and has since been refined immensely. The same goes for PS3 users and Netflix which launched their own mirroring capability last October. Therefore the companies think that such a collaboration will push the industry forward as a whole. The feeling being that having two of the major players working together promoting DIAL will speed up adoption as opposed to the proprietary approach.
DIAL's protocol will enable second screen apps to discover first screen DIAL ready devices and launch apps on them. This will be a big step forward from the current version of the Netflix PS3 marriage where an app must be opened separately on each device in order for them to interact. So now with DIAL the Netflix app on your phone or tablet will automatically detect that there is also a Netflix connection on your television. Very similar to how YouTube operates now with Google TV. Basically DIAL will be able to launch web apps on your TV so long as your device supports it. There is also a plan to bring Chrome functionality which will open up the possibility of launching apps directly from your browser.
One of the major differences between DIAL and AirPlay is that Apple's offering has the ability to send URLs from your apple device to your TV and in an interview with CNN Scott Mirer, director of product management at Netflix, says it was left out by design:
"Once apps from the same provider are running on both screens, there are several feasible methods for implementing control protocols either through the cloud or on the local network. And not every service or application is focused on the same kinds of use cases. Rather than try to get universal agreement on these protocols and use cases, it seemed best to leave room for innovation."
Thus far only Google TV boxes and sets support DIAL which include products from LG and Samsung with more vendors, including Sony, coming to market with compatible products later this year.