DIAL, an open standard form of wireless playback, is being given a rather large push by both Netflix and YouTube. Their hopes are that using an open standard will allow developers to solve second screen playback issues in a better way than Apple's AirPlay. In other words, it wouldn't be a proprietary solution and would be available to anyone who wants to implement the protocol.
DIAL, which stands for discovery and launch, aims to make second screen sharing more widely available to not only developers but encourages manufacturers to take advantage. The protocol can be used with many Smart TVs, set tops like the Google TV box, Blu Ray players, and more.
Outside of Apple's own proprietary system, most solutions have not been successful. Sony Playstation 3 owners can browse for movies and media via Netflix on their smartphone and then launch it on a second screen via the Playstation 3 but both apps must be open in order for it to work. This is what DIAL aims to improve upon.
With DIAL, the Netflix app on your phone will automatically discover that there is a device with a Netflix app connected to your TV. It will fire up that app, and then the two apps are free to do whatever they want — which presumably involves some healthy binge-viewing. (For the more technically-minded readers: DIAL is using UPnP multicast for the discovery piece of the puzzle, and a REST-service to launch apps on discovered devices.)
According to GigaOm, many manufacturers including Sony and Samsung are excited about the potential DIAL has and have already started implementing it in some of the devices they're shipping. Actually, many devices such as the Google TV that was released back in 2010, contain limited support for DIAL protocols.
There are also instances where DIAL functionality could potentially trump that of AirPlay -
But there are other areas where DIAL actually goes beyond AirPlay’s capabilities. First, the obvious: AirPlay can’t launch any apps on your Apple TV. DIAL will also be able to detect whether an app is installed, and redirect a user to a smart TV’s app store in case it’s missing. Also cool: DIAL will be able to launch web apps on your TV, if the device supports it, which should add a whole lot of new functionality to connected devices.
Nowadays, most of us own a Smart TV, Blu Ray player, game system, or other set top electronic that has the ability to download apps and connect to the internet. If DIAL hits the mainstream in the way YouTube and Netflix hope it does, it'll be interesting to see how it affect the closed off ecosystem that is AirPlay.