Skip to main content

Like Chromecast, Roku wants to let you launch TV apps from your phone or tablet

Like Chromecast, Roku wants to let you launch TV apps from your phone or tablet

Share this story

Google's $35 Chromecast dongle garnered a lot of attention due to its low price and ease of use. It's hard to find a simpler, cheaper way to share YouTube and Netflix videos from a smartphone to a nearby television. But Roku, the set-top box manufacturer, doesn't plan to let Google go unchallenged. At the Next TV Summit in San Francisco, Roku CEO Anthony Wood announced that his company will add the same basic casting functionality to its own hardware by supporting the DIAL protocol.

DIALing in your favorite shows

DIAL was co-developed by YouTube and Netflix to achieve one particular goal: if your DIAL-enabled app detects a DIAL-compatible device (like a TV or set-top box) on the same network, you can tap a single button to automatically launch the same app on the TV or set-top as well. If that sounds exactly like Google's Chromecast, that's because that particular piece of the Chromecast's functionality is also based on the same DIAL protocol. GigaOm reports that Sony, Vizio, LG, Panasonic and TiVo have started prepping their devices to be DIAL receivers as well.

Apple's AirPlay works differently than both: instead of simply sending signals to start playing online content, AirPlay actually mirrors the screen of Apple devices or streams locally stored music and videos to AirPlay receivers. Roku also recently updated its iOS and Android apps to stream local content, one piece of that puzzle.

It's not yet clear if apps developed with Chromecast support will be able to communicate with generic DIAL devices, but Wood's tone suggests they might not. Multichannel News and GigaOm, both of which were present at the announcement, report that the Roku CEO called Google his "biggest competitor" going forward. Both Google and Roku will be trying to get TV and set-top box manufacturers to integrate their platforms into televisions, and Roku thinks it has a leg up in that regard. "We think we are well ahead of Google in terms of licensing," Wood boasted. "Our goal over time is to be the operating system for televisions," he said, according to GigaOm.