16
Nov
2012-11-15_16h33_10

Android 4.2 is out now and it brings a bunch of new goodies. Multiple users on a tablet, photospheres, and gesture typing are all pretty neat. What about this Miracast thing, though? If you're part of the majority of Android users out there, you know that it involves screen sharing and something vaguely to do with WiFi. Well, here. Let's clear some of that up for you.

So, Uh... What Is Miracast?

At its most basic level, Miracast is a video streaming specification created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. It allows a user to share whatever is displayed on their device's screen with another compatible product. Whether that's a TV, another smartphone, a tablet, or a desktop. The spec supports up to 1080p HD video and 5.1 surround sound. The dream is, you could download a movie to your tablet via the Play Store (or your preferred medium) and stream it to your TV without ever plugging in a cable and without sacrificing quality. Among other applications.

The neat thing about Miracast is it doesn't require any special hardware to work. So unlike, say, a new wireless standarad (eg, 802.11n, 802.11ac), you won't need to upgrade to a new device in order to use it. In theory anyway. More specifically, Miracast is built on top of WiFi Direct, which allows devices to utilize WiFi to communicate with each other directly, instead of having to hop on a mutual wireless router. There's already a push to make more mobile devices support this standard, since it makes things like file transfers much easier, so Miracast support is already piggybacking on another train's momentum. This will be good for support.

This Sounds A Lot Like Airplay...

That's because it kind of is! The main difference is that, unlike Apple's mirroring standard, this would be open so that any platform or device manufacturer could jump on board and support it. Even Apple! Though, probably not. As of right now, there are a number of major players who are willing to work on this including Intel, AMD, Broadcom, Ralink, NVIDIA, TI, Qualcomm, Marvell, MediaTek, and the Android platform. Of course, putting a bunch of brand names together doesn't guarantee an awesome and mighty force to be reckoned with (I miss you, Android Update Alliance). Still, it's good to see so many companies pay attention right off the bat.

Ultimately, though, the effect would be largely the same. Synergy between your devices. It's an attempt to remove the wily wires, the confusing configurations, and the irritating interfaces from media sharing. Virtually every device you own has two-to-five ways to communicate wirelessly, right? Why can't they just talk to each other and everything be simple? That's the idea.

Sounds Great! So, Can I Use It Now?

2012-11-15_14h05_39

Maybe! To be honest, probably not yet, but it kinda depends on what devices you own. For example, did you know that Samsung already has a Miracast-based video streaming solution in some of its devices? It's called AllShare. While this software is more or less limited to Samsung's own brand of hardware, if you own a Galaxy S III, a Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, a Series 7 Chronos laptop, and an LED 8000 Series Smart TV, then you can share content between any of them with relative ease! Of course, those four devices could also cost you over $5000 easily.

Outside of Samsung's compatible-yet-still-proprietary solutions, the entries are pretty sparse. The Nexus 4 and 10 both support it officially, though you'd be hard-pressed to find a working demo of it. In fact, while Google claims the Nexus 10 can utilize it, the option is entirely absent. According to Ars Technica, a Google rep has stated the feature could be enabled in a future software update, but no indication was given as to when that might happen. The option is also missing from Nexus 7s and Galaxy Nexuses that have been updated to Android 4.2. This may be due to a lack of Miracast certification. It's unclear when or if the option will roll out.

N4wirelessdisplay N10wirelessdisplay

Left: Nexus 4 with Wireless Display option enabled, Right: Nexus 10 distinctly lacking this option.

Since the hardware requirements are rather low, and the standard is already building on top of another spec that companies have reason to push rather hard, it's reasonable to believe that, in a year, this will be about as ubiquitous as NFC is on smartphones now. At least among phones and tablets. Televisions will take a lot longer, especially if yours doesn't have WiFi built in. Since people upgrade their TVs, computer monitors, laptops and desktops much less frequently than their tablets and smartphones, it will take a lot more time for you to find places to stream to.

The upshot is, if you really want it, you don't necessarily have to replace your TV. Set top boxes, wireless dongles, and perhaps even Blu-Ray players can also act as Miracast receivers. If you're in the market for a new device in this category, be on the look out for branding that indicates compatibility. You could buy a dedicated mirroring box like the Push2TV from Netgear. Beyond that, there isn't too much outside of dedicated TVs. There will be, though. Here's a list of components, chipsets, or products that are in development that will support Miracast:

• Broadcom Dualband 11n WiFi
• Intel® WiDi
• Marvell Avastar USB-8782 802.11n 1x1 Dual-band Reference Design
• MediaTek a/b/g/n Dualband Mobile Phone Client, MT662X_v1 and DTV Sink, MV0690
• Ralink 802.11n Wireless Adapter, RT3592
• Realtek Dual-band 2x2 RTL8192DE HM92D01 PCIe Half Mini Card and RTD1185 RealShare Smart Display Adapter

More are sure to come. Be on the look out for more devices that list "“Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™" among its features, as this is the officially-approved designation (PDF). I wish I had better news for you, but unfortunately, this is an extremely new product and you'll be waiting a while to see it supported widely.

Okay... Am I Going To Forget About This For Years Until It Works?

To be honest, maybe. It's a little like NFC in that regard. What you're seeing here isn't so much a brand new feature that everyone can use today (although some can), but more the groundwork being laid to do some really awesome things in the future. Remember when NFC was first announced and Android Beam looked amazing, until you realized your phone didn't have NFC and you were a year and a half away from an upgrade? This is a little like that, only not quite as bad.

For starters, if you have a device without Miracast support, but you do have Wi-Fi Direct, it's possible that it could be added in an update later. Possible. Not guaranteed. Among the things needed for this feature to become available are certification that it works with the new spec (not hard) and software to actually do it (much harder). This will either mean Android 4.2 will need to roll out to your device — so, see some of you in six months to a year—or some other app like Samsung's AllShare will need to be made available. A lot of blocks need to fall into place here.

On the other hand, two or three years from now, it's like that virtually every new phone or tablet sold will support Miracast. At that point, there will probably also be a wide range of set top boxes or dongles that can add the functionality to your TV or computer monitor. Heck, if we're really lucky, maybe Windows will even support it on some hardware. Maybe not in the OS, but at least via some hardware certification and some software download.

In the meantime, if you've got the constellation alignment of devices that allows you to use it, have fun. Otherwise, abide by the mantra that all technology must endure: just keep waiting. It will get better.

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amishcrusader Shane Capuano

    Thanks for this article. It basically cleared up my fears: it will be awhile before this catches on, but once it does you can't imagine not being without it. This is the Holy Grail of streaming, and it will take awhile. (I upgraded my Nexus 7 to 4.2 stock hoping to see this somewhere, but not yet).

  • Juhani

    I think one very important thing is missing from this article. The new Presentation API in Android 4.2 is much more than just display mirroring. It allows apps to show different content on an external screen. It also works with HDMI so we're likely going to start seeing new apps doing this very soon first with HDMi connections and once the HW support is there we can use the same apps on Miracast. Plain display mirroring is pretty boring but allowing devs to extend their content to TVs etc is going to be big.

    • makapav

      Oh it's you! :-) I came here to say just this.

      But also, I am disappointed in how Google does not a have a vision for half the things it puts into their products.

      Miracast, especially extended screen capabiliyt, should have been advertised as a killer Android feature with partnered dongles available at launch.

      • https://plus.google.com/106721695871122826476/posts?hl=en Aja Hemphill

        I'd really like to see them push a Nexus Google TV with Miracast built into it. I think that would be the most exciting prospect..

        • http://twitter.com/NullColaShip Paul Nicholls

          My first thought upon hearing that 4.2 included Miracast support was that the Nexus Q will be updated to act as a Miracast receiver. It'd instantly make it a much more useful device - particularly for those of us for whom it's currently just a device for playing YouTube videos on the big screen (i.e. those of us who live outside the USA). Forget about having to add support to the gallery app, and various other apps - just let them be displayed directly via Miracast!

        • http://www.google.com/ NJ
      • Fatty Bunter

        Maybe they're waiting to launch a Nexus device that incorporates that

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Good point, but that's more of an Android 4.2 feature that happens to be able to utilize Miracast as the transport mechanism. It's definitely worth pointing out that Miracast allows for such support to happen, but the Presentation feature itself has more to do with Android than Miracast, so it wasn't mentioned in the article.

      Here's a good doc for secondary display support: http://developer.android.com/about/versions/android-4.2.html#SecondaryDisplays

    • Sean Lumly

      I certainly hope to see software mircast clients for desktop OSs and even android. Connecting even two devices can open the door for serious productivity benefits.

  • Kris

    Isn't this just DLNA? I've been able to do this with my SGSII to my Panasonic Wifi Equipped TV for a while now.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      The major difference between DLNA and Miracast is Miracast doesn't need a Wi-Fi network - it can use Wi-Fi Direct. It also negotiates the best resolution and codec automatically.

      • Floss

        Well, and if I understand this correctly, DLNA transfers content, where as Miracast transfers audio/video. The difference is I can just display anything the client supports instead of only videos/pictures/audio in formats both ends supported.

    • Josh Flowers

      DLNA on my (previously owned) Thunderbolt allowed only content stored on the phone (videos/photos/songs) to be streamed to a media player (ps3/360/etc).
      this seems to be any content shown on the screen (apps/netflix?/etc)

      is your streaming-content saved to the phone or is it something like Netflix?

    • chrulri

      No, in some cases it's better than in DLNA. Because DLNA sends encoded (like MP4/WMV/JPG/PNG/MP3/etc.) stuff over WiFi (yes, via the access point / router). This has three major drawbacks:
      1) Your Device has to be in the same WiFi network as your TV (not always the case, for example if your friend wants to show you something on your TV with his device)
      2) Your TV has to be able to decode the media you're sending and
      3) if you're access point is in another room, your signal has to travel to the other room and back to your TV which is right in front of you. Since Miracast is based on WiFi Direct, this possible bottleneck is gone.

    • Ryan Yakus

      does dlna allow full mirroring? or does it just allow media servers to share content? that's all I've ever seen it used for, anyway.

      the big thing this has me personally excited for is extended touch interface. The Ouya is going to have tegra 3 which will support miracast. So what I'm really, really hoping for is the ability to run the native XBMC from the ouya, and have that display mirrored to my phone/tablet so I can use it to navigate the libraries on my tv from my couch, rather than having to pick up another remote and have to use the joysticks or whatever to do my navigating like I have to do now with the horrible media server interface of the ps3. this is my dream, anyway.

      also, the extended screen thing for apps sounds awesome too

  • Bill Stebbins

    I have the NetGear Push2TV and cannot get it working with my Nexus 7 with Android 4.2

    • marcusmaximus04

      N7 doesn't have wireless display... yet.

  • jm9843

    Another key advantage of Miracast over Airplay, other than what's already been stated, is that Miracast is an adhoc connection. That is, devices can speak directly to one another without requiring a wireless router in the mix.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Right. It uses Wi-Fi Direct, as mentioned in the article.

    • didibus

      Can Miracast also work over standard wifi? That would allow for longer ranges and streaming of more then one device at a time?

  • http://twitter.com/nastybutler77 Jameson Ahern

    Welp. I already have a WiDi adapter hooked up to my TV to stream video from my laptop. It works...sometimes. More of a PITA then it's worth IMO. It's easier and much quicker for me to just have a long HDMI cable and plug it in when I want to send video to my TV.

  • Jeremy Bryant

    Eric, your English teacher would be so proud of your use of alliteration in this post ..." wily wires, the confusing configurations, and the irritating interfaces". Gold star for you. Hopefully Miracast fulfills its potential and makes life easier..if enough players get on board and follow through.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      Thanks. Glad someone notices. It's the little things. ;)

  • Paul_Werner

    What sucks about AllShare on Samsung devices (unless they've corrected it since the GS1) is that it is very limited on file formats that it can play

    • wooandwow

      As I understand it this is not the same as AllShare in that sense...it just sends content files (such as a video or a picture). Miracast "records" your screen and mirrors it on a different device. There seem to be a couple advantages to this:
      1 If you stream the content from the cloud then it can be "recorded" and mirrored. With the advent of Google Movies/Netflix/HBO2GO/Hulu we now have a lot of content that we don't have a "file" for that can be streamed using All Share.
      2 There are no difficulties with the target device not supporting the file format (because its "recorded" in a standard format)
      3 You don't need to be on the same wireless access point (making it easier if your mate has access to Netflix/HBO2Go or whatever on their Droid that you want to mirror on your screen).

  • Rick Fisher

    well, the LG TV I bought this summer has WiFi Direct, is a 2012 model, and has received numerous software updates via WiFi so far, so there's at least hope I'll be able to use this feature of my upcoming N4. I'm still bummed my MHL adapter is about to become useless

  • http://riteshtripathy.wordpress.com/ Ritesh Tripathy

    There should be a link on the Nexus 4 feature page for all currently available dongles and devices that support Miracast and what devices might be supported in the near future, if they want to advertise Miracast as a killer new feature that is.

    • LazarusDark

      I first heard about miracast refering to intel laptops getting it. That was months ago, I was surprised to hear that there are already some Android phones with support.

  • Blake Forehand

    The video shown makes it seem like Transformer tablets are Miracast enabled, is this the case? I would love to be able to do this with my TF700.

  • Pravdroid

    Can it also support wireless audio streaming to a compatible speaker? Like air play speakers?
    Android is way back in the audio department.. in terms of Docks with USB streaming/wireless streaming. Blutooth is old and not very good for music streaming. They need to focus more on this.

    • didibus

      I'd like to know this also. I believe it should, I mean, it can stream 5.1 and 1080p together, why not only stream the audio.

    • Johnny Mnemonic

      AptX

  • olbp

    .

    So, about the time that apple and all the other manufacturers agree to standardize on interoperability, this "feature" should be really nice? Right?

    HA!

    .

  • mechapathy

    We live in the future.

  • donrhummy

    The HTC One X supports it and Dell sells a Miracast receiver (that plugs into your wifi/TV) for $60. Seems reasonable enough for Android Police to get and try out. Can you try this and report how it works?

  • warcaster

    Google needs to use this in Google TV, and show you the Google TV interface inside an app, and then when you press on stuff in the app, it changes on the TV.

    BTW, wasn't All Share based on DLNA, not Wi-Fi Direct?

    • Elias

      I have a Captivate (at&t's version of the original Galaxy S) which came with AllShare, and I could stream audio and photos to a Sony tv which has DLNA. So I'd bet AllShare is indeed DLNA-based. BTW, both the tv and the phone were connected to the same network, not directly connected via ad-hoc wifi.

      • 5yve0h4our

        Right so In your case that was just all share being a DLNa client, even if your Phone supported the Allshare Miracast flavor usually just called second screen functionality, it would only work with a Samsung ES 7 or 8 series

    • 5yve0h4our

      All share still exists, it was and is DLNA and it was and Is an app that has its own little tweaked version of Miracast built it, but most people who use all share are using DLNA, the second screen function is only there for flagship devices like the ES7xK and ES8000 or PN8k for plasma, then the note 2 and such, only with these ingredients do the all share second screen functionality come into play

  • http://twitter.com/ao9news andy o

    without sacrificing quality

    AFAIK Miracast, like Airplay and WiDi, compresses everything to H.264, which can be bad for already compressed video streams. Also, I don't know if Android tablets can output 4:4:4 YCbCr or full RGB via HDMI, but the format itself can. I'm presuming the H.264 compression also implies downsampling for a consumer-video-friendly 4:2:0 color sampling (any info on that?).

    So, the above would mean that actual hardware features should be required, like a HW H.264 encoder. I believe Intel use Quicksync, and Tegra 3 and other chipsets probably have their own as well.

    Also, I noticed pretty bad latency on that video, should be enough to make many games unplayable.

    And, Miracast can't do audio only! That's a big problem for many, me included.

    • pleion

      Hi Andy, miracast supports Primary and Secondary sink options. Primary sink is display and video and the secondary is only Audio. So you can have one primary sink display with syncronised audio on the secondary sink. In the other configuration you could just have secondary sink with Audio.

  • twaddington

    All I want is the equivalent of Reflection for iOS: https://www.reflectionapp.com/. Will Miracast support that? How can I mirror from a Miracast enabled phone to a laptop or other computer?

  • forpar

    I bought a netgear tv3000 just for this purpose. My question is will miracast only play video? What I want to be able to do are presentations, speaking, and teaching with it. Can I mirror what ever I want, maybe a book, picture, etc?

    • Simon Belmont

      It should be able to mirror whatever is on your device's screen. The device that is broadcast, that is.

      That could be a movie, a game, or your home screens. It shows this pretty clearly in the video above.

  • Simon Belmont

    The Tegra 3 in the Nexus 7s definitely SUPPORT Miracast. Maybe they just need drivers from nVidia?

    I remember one of the headlining features they talked about in Tegra 3 chips was Miracast support. I'd be surprised if they don't implement it in a minor point update for the Nexus 7.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Trent8381 Trent Richards

    This is one of the biggest features that I am replacing my Xoom with a Nexus 10 for. I realize it hasn't been implemented yet, but Google does say it is supported, so I expect a minor update to implement the feature on the Nexus 10. I wonder just how effective it will be at mirorring streaming content to a TV. Considering that you will have higher bandwith requirements for that task, I fear there may be some studdering. You will have the content being streamed to your Android device(Netflix, Hulu, personal Media Server) and then Miracast streaming it to your TV. Fortunately with Wifi Direct, the router won't have to deal with the extra bandwidth, but your tablet/phone's Wifi radio certainly will. Does anyone have any info on this?

    • Elias

      Uh-oh. Will you be able to use wifi simultaneously with miracast? I guess the wifi radio will be already occupied by miracast.

      • pleion

        Hi Elias,
        miracast session topology allows a source device to be connected to a wifi AP as well as connected to P2P miracast sink device

  • Taire Stephenson

    It works well with my note 2 and lg smart tv, even works with my xbox now

    • wheineman

      Can you tell me how you got it to work with your xbox? I am trying to do that!

    • Johnny Mnemonic

      I'm curious. What ROM are you on, on the Note 2 ?

  • freelyn

    This article is awesome. Has there been an updated one mentioning all the devices that have just recently been certified and the announcements from other major industry players for Miracast support? Like Samsung, LG (Both making TVs with it built in, NVidia, etc., etc. I think Q3 and Q4 of this year are going to have a tone of Miracast certified devices flood the market.

    A universal wireless video standard that doesn't require an existing WIFI network, is a huge development. I cannot wait until this is universal and no matter where I go, my Android or Windows device can simply attach to the display where I am.

    This article deserves a revisit and rewrite.

  • Tomasz_POLAND

    Look, the same tablet with android 4.2 with wifi enough to miracast? It sends a software android?
    It seems to me that and equipment must be compatible with miracast. But I could be wrong.

    The second question. I have a modern TV Samsung ES7000 with wifi direct. Is it enough to receive the signal without any additional devices miracast?

  • Andygold

    I'm looking at getting an LG Optimus G Pro on At&T. According to LG it supports Miracast. The phone comes with Jellybean 4.1, not 4.2. So then, does 4.1 support Miracast, or is Miracast somehow entrenched in the phone's hardware? I guess its possible that LG is speculating that their phone WILL support Miracast if and when they roll out 4.2 to it, but having 4.1 has me curious.

    On another note, would Miracast have the ability to work with live presentations? For example, if I was speaking in a large hall with projector and screen...could I set up a Miracast enabled phone to shoot live video of the presentation and then instantly, wirelessly send it to the Miracast enabled projector, or enabled laptop (and then to the projector)? Basically, would Miracast work with a live cam on a phone?

    • Conception

      On a Nexus 7 tablet (version 1 or 2) it appears to be software only. Here's a thread on XDA Forums in which someone got this to work on both tablets and a cellphone. It seems that he compiled the complete 4.2.2 ROMs with the additional Miracast Support. Also, the software is freely available on Github. Go here, watch the video and read the thread... http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2348991

  • wadedorrell

    Re: Windows & Miracast: it's supported in the OS in Windows 8.1.

  • Conception

    There is a forum thread over on XDA Forums where a hacker has enabled Miracast on Nexus 7.1 tablets. As well, it is believed it will work on Nexus 7.2 tablets too (the new ones). There are videos and actual CODE (on Github) that can be patched into Android. It is the hope that the Cyanogen Rom builders will ALL incorporate his code into the ROMS and then everyone will have access to it. Go here, read this, watch the videos... http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2348991 Then hit up all the forums you know and are apart of and make a big deal about this because it needs to be rolled into all the ROMS and made a standard. It simply boils down to the fact that not many people realize what this technology can actually do. Once you see it in action, you'll WANT IT!

  • Alexander Terry

    Is there going to be a android app ever?

  • Malin

    I was considering pushing apt-x and AAC encoded streams from my phone through Bluetooth 4.0 to my stereo system has and attachment apt+x and AAC compatible receiver. How about substituting that with a mirracast compatible receiver and then extract PCM streams from its HDMI out and convert it into SPDIF to be feed into the DAC of my stereo? For me, UDP over wifi seems to be the way to transport streams of PCM.

  • Guest

    I currently have a new Asus nexus 7 by Google (nexus 7.2 as it is commonly referred as) running on android KitKat 4.4.2 I see something on my nexus called screen cast, is this the famed miracast?

  • Jayson Cardwell

    I currently have a new Asus nexus 7 by Google (nexus 7.2 as it is commonly referred as) running on android KitKat 4.4.2 I see something on my nexus called screen cast, is this the famed miracast? Screenshot with Dev mode enabled has been highlighted via pointer location

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1OHc39X2CqhaTBMUEZ5OTJkd1E/edit?usp=docslist_api

  • T V

    Very curious "Is anyone bringing out reasonably priced projection TV? Today LCD/LED TVs are waste of resource and anti environment. It would be nice if we go for total technology change and develop good projection TV."

  • john

    Low hardware requirements but does need dual WiFi antennas - hence no Miracast for Moto G or Nexus 7 2012 amongst others.