If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and an Apple TV you can start watching videos on your mobile device, hit a button, and continue watching on your TV. Apple calls the service AirPlay.
Now Netflix and YouTube are pushing a new service called DIAL (Discovery and Launch) which lets you do pretty much the same thing on non-AirPlay devices.
GigaOm has a run-down on how DIAL will work once it goes live. Basically you run two apps, one on your phone or other mobile device, and one on your Smart TV or set-top-box. Launch the app on your phone and it will search for supported devices on your home network, allowing you to pair your mobile device with your TV.
Then you can use your phone or tablet to browse for content and launch a video which will start playing on your TV.
What’s cool is that you don’t need to manually launch a DIAL-friendly app on both your phone and your TV. Just fire it up on your mobile device and when you want to play a video, it will automatically launch the app on your TV. So the process sort of turns your mobile device into a remote control for internet video on your TV.
The latest Google TV devices already support DIAL, and while the platform was started by Netflix and YouTube, additional content providers including Hulu Pandora, and the BBC are all on board.