Some of you may know that I, frankly, enjoy bitching about things. In my world, someone is either doing something a little bit okay or really, really wrong. I’m going to put this one into the latter because, dammit, Android needs some native DNLA integration already.
DNLA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is intended as a universal format for media devices to share and stream media with each other. The idea is basically that you can buy devices from different manufactures and have them all “talk” to each other and stream media. So, you can stream a movie from your computer regardless of if you have Mac or Samsung devices, etc.
It’s a very intelligent idea, things that just sort of work together. So, it’s weird that Android doesn’t support DNLA natively in the platform. After all, it just makes sense — think of an Android system that automatically integrates all the movies and music from your computer into your phone or tablet via the Gallery.
For example, I happen to be rather lazy and I recently bought a couch. So, I often enjoy sitting on said couch and watching movies on my adorable Nexus 7. Movies that are on my computer. DNLA is the easiest way to do this. Why doesn’t Android have this built in?
My point is that Android champions itself as a platform of openness- and it doesn’t get more open than DNLA.
Other Ways To Get DNLA On Android
I’m being a little whiny. I like my Android simple, integrated and already set up. There are absolutely options for integrating DNLA on your Android phone or tablet. In fact, last year I reviewed one of the best DNLA apps on the market called Skifta.
Skifta works great… most of the time. It’s hard to say what issues are caused by my specific hardware set up or if that’s just DNLA’s fickleness in general, but it’s sometimes a pain to get things like movies and music to stream. It’s not uncommon to have a specific video continually buffer or just stutter to the point of being just plain not fun to watch.
Skifta isn’t the only DNLA app on the market; some other picks are BubbleUPnp, VPlayer Video Player, and Mirage. They all more or less work the same way, but they all feel equally forced and awkward. Integrating DNLA directly into Android’s existing apps would make it feel fluid and simple. Android should include an option the first time I set up my phone that asks me about streaming video.
Manufacturers Are Already Putting DNLA On Android
Both Samsung and Motorola put their own proprietary DNLA apps on the devices that they manufacture, although both feel a little on the basic side. The real story is that both companies know that Apple’s Airplay is something that consumers want and, honestly, who wouldn’t? I mean, isn’t everyone’s secret dream a world without so many wires and plugs and connections? I think so.
DNLA seems even more like a no brainer with things like Miracast, a potential Airplay competitor, coming to some Android devices. Miracast promises to be the Airplay that doesn’t exist now for all devices — so you could do things like stream 1080p movies from your phone to your television or even mirror between devices.
According to Gizmodo, the Galaxy S III is going to be one of the first devices with official support. However, that official support comes by way of a Samsung-specific app that takes care of Miracast instead of an official version for Android.
Just Make It Easy Already
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Nexus fan boy, but one of the things I loathe about these devices is the utter lack of storage space and the herky-jerky nature that is sometimes DNLA. It means that I have to go with a roundabout solution of streaming video to my little Android devices (most recently including simply streaming straight from my Dropbox account).
My point? Make it easy already. DNLA on Android should be a standard at this point, something everyone should get right out of the box without having to sort through apps or deal with so-so streaming performance.