Apple's AirPlay service, which streams music and video from one device to another, is great for all-Apple households and pretty worthless for anyone who doesn't own an Apple TV or licensed AirPlay accessory. AirPlay is a great money-maker for Apple: the company earns money on licensing fees and sells more Apple TVs at the same time. Google's looking to capture some of that same market--and according to GigaOm, Google wants their competitor to be open to third parties.
Google's first step towards an AirPlay competitor is a YouTube beaming service for Android devices. Unfortunately, the end target of that beam is Google TV, which approximately no one is using. Google TV is just the first step, though. Google product manager Timbo Drayson told GigaOm that they're working with other developers to build an open standard, which could mean future interoperability with non-Android devices:
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.
It would be great to see Android apps play nice with Internet-enabled TVs and set top boxes (think TiVO's app and Microsoft Smartglass for the latter), but a platform agnostic AirPlay alternative would be even better. And, of course, much harder to build support for. Google has its work cut out for it if it wants to match Apple's ease-of-use without matching the company's strict licensing.