Music fans, and everyone else with a smartphone in their pockets for that matter, face a big problem: We have lots of stuff on different machines, and we want it to be on other machines. Oh, and we don’t want to get an engineering degree in order for that to happen.
You might want to play the MP3s on your work computer or your game console at home because it’s connected to the nice speakers. Or maybe the photo you need is on a computer in your bedroom and you want to show it to someone on the television in the living room, and you want to do it now.
We’re only at the dawn of the idea of every device in our lives being “smart” in that they have their own IP addresses on the internet, although we’ve seen fits and starts of progress — not just the internet refrigerator they trot out every year at the Consumer Electronics Show, but Apple AirPlay, the DLNA standard, UPnP, Apple TV and so on.
With the exception of Apple’s entries, none of this is really “ready for primetime”, by which I mean super-easy — like, “try it for the first time without reading a manual and have it work” easy. Skifta, a Qualcomm subsidiary, hopes to remedy that situation. The company already has an Android app that lets you take digital media from your phone, the internet or home computers, and put that on your TV, Sony PlayStation 3 or stereo — so long as the device supports DLNA, which most people haven’t heard of, but which is a media-sharing protocol supported by many devices.
To simplify the situation (and, we suspect, compete more effectively with AirPlay on the cusp of what some see as an impending TV app revolution), Skifta released an engine on Monday evening that “offers always-on access to digital media from virtually any source inside and outside of the home for streaming to connected TVs, stereos and game consoles via network-attached storage drives, smart routers and set-top boxes.”
In other words, it will work similarly to the way the current Skifta app already works, just without making people try to figure out what DLNA and UPnP are, and whether their device has it. Instead, manufacturers can build the Skifta engine into their devices (or offer firmware upgrades that add it) in order to “just work” — you know, the way AirPlay does.
Starting today, manufacturers can start building the Skifta Engine into their stuff. Who knows whether they will; what we do know is that Google’s Android ecosystem desperately needs something like this, because Android users are migrating to Apple AirPlay — and it might as well be Skifta. Here’s some more information with some nitty-gritty details from the announcement:
The Java-based Skifta Engine provides manufacturers with an always-on DLNA software suite comprised of a Digital Media Controller (DMC), Digital Media Server (DMS) and, when paired with compatible hardware, a Digital Media Renderer (DMR). The Skifta Engine software runs on network attached storage drives or storage-based smart router/gateways and set-top boxes with an embedded JAVA Virtual Machine, and it serves as a central control point for media access, management and shifting. It also serves as the primary DMC for any number of DLNA and UPnP clients on a network, allowing multi-user controls and shifting of local, remote or cloud content sources like Flickr, TED Talks, SHOUTcast, Revision 3 and Facebook.
When paired with the Skifta mobile app for Android, which can be customised for device manufacturers interested in delivering a complete media-shifting software solution, the Skifta Engine gives consumers the power to turn their Android smartphones and tablets into global remote controls for accessing and shifting their media around the home over Wi-Fi, or remotely from home via mobile broadband.