The technology took a couple of years, but it seems now everyone is exciting about sending video wirelessly from their phones to their TVs. I think it’s a great thing. I hate when I have to crowd around a little screen to see something when you’re standing so close to a big one.
What is AirPlay? Is it different from casting?
AirPlay is Apple’s proprietary system for sending video wirelessly. As with all things Apple it works only with iPhones and iPads, as well as Apple TV devices. There are a few other devices on the market that support it for audio, and a few premium TV makers have said they will support it in the future. AirPlay is a good, secure system but it’s not widely supported since about 85% of the phones out there are Androids.
Casting takes its name from the ChromeCast device. It’s Google’s implementation of screen sharing. It’s a little more versatile than Apple’s and it’s supported in a lot of devices including most popular brands of smart TVs. In addition to straight screen sharing, some casting apps actually do something smarter. For example if you are casting Netflix, you tell the Netflix app what to play from your phone, cast it to the TV and then the TV will pull the program straight from the internet. This means a smoother and more reliable stream.
How would DIRECTV implement casting?
DIRECTV receivers could implement casting one of two ways. They’re not likely to use AirPlay since that’s Apple’s baby. As a casting source, they could stream programming wirelessly to a TV. As a casting target, they could receive video or audio from your phone and then send it to the TV if your TV didn’t have that capability.
Unfortunately though, neither of those things are likely to happen.
Why won’t DIRECTV support casting?
As a programming source, AT&T’s lawyers would probably want to negotiate with all of its content providers before providing additional streaming or casting options. This process of negotiation takes years to do and I’m not sure the lawyers would see a lot of benefit to it when the receiver could so easily be connected by a wire.
As a target for programming from your phone, the only benefit would be to give you the ability to watch non-DIRECTV content. At one point DIRECTV (as a separate company) supported YouTube and media sharing and several other technologies. There was a plan to make the DIRECTV DVR the complete hub for all your TV watching. Unfortunately it never came to pass, and no one really missed those features when they were taken out.
Let’s also point out, you’d need all new hardware to do casting or AirPlay. I don’t think you could just do it with software from within the DVR or client. That would mean a lot of investment for a pretty small return and that doesn’t seem like the kind of thing AT&T would do.
If you can’t go without the wires, at least hide them
So the idea of going completely wireless isn’t going to happen. Even if you have a wireless client you’re going to need a power cord and HDMI cable. If you want to put something from your phone on the TV, you’ll need a different device that supports it (or a different TV that supports it.) The good news is that you can mount a DIRECTV receiver or client behind the TV and the remote will still work. This means you can still get a clean DIRECTV installation and avoid seeing the wires, even if you can’t be rid of them.