If you were paying attention at CES—which, clearly, no one was—you saw guys at the Samsung booth showing off their new DLNA-enabled devices. That alphabet-soup acronym—digital living network alliance, if you care—was created by a third-party nonprofit developer to support device-to-device communication, much like BlueTooth. The resulting protocol was available for everyone, freeing it up from the shackles of proprietary tech management and enabling multiple tech manufacturers to play nice together.
Today, Google held a press conference to announce that it had a new dongle for your TV, called Chromecast, that would upgrade it to do what every Samsung TV will do later this year; namely include wireless network connectivity with other local devices. There's also a Web component, but we've seen that before, too, on the Sonos, a Web-ready speaker that plays songs from your Amazon and iTunes libraries using your smartphone as a controller.
This, of course, is a time-honored tradition in the tech world—Apple's iPad mini was hailed as a gigantic breakthrough by people who had apparently never seen an Android tablet before. It's also something Google loves to do: its Android OS has gotten plenty of props for its stability and reliability—that's because it's built around a Linux kernel. Linux is famously the most stable operating system out there and, like DLNA, the product of a nonprofit developer. To be fair, the portability of the Chromecast dongle is certainly a plus, since it will upgrade your current TV to do things your next TV will have inside the casing. It is, basically, a bridge device.
It's also interesting that the company is pushing Netflix compatibility—these sorts of things always work more smoothly when folks are making an effort from both sides to ensure ease of use, but it's surprising that Netflix would get behind a device that appears to allow users to carry their subscriptions around in their pockets from place to place. Presumably, if one of your pals has Netflix on his Android phone, all six of you can watch the latest episodes of "Arrested Development" on your non-Netflix buddy's plasma screen.
The move is being played up as a shot across the bow at Apple's AirPlay, but really, expect everybody, Apple, Android, or otherwise unaffiliated, to have something inside their devices that does exactly this in the next few months.
UPDATE: Here's Google's video for the Chromecast (which, by the way, has to be plugged in, so there will be a cord dangling from it that you don't see in the footage below, per Buzzfeed).