Apple’s AirPlay Is The Most Important New Technology Since RSS

I still remember when Dave Winer showed me RSS and what it did. It changed my life and continues to, even after we switched much of our reading behaviour to Twitter (a new iPad app is coming on Friday that uses RSS, more about that when the embargo ends).

But since RSS has there been a new protocol that’s changed our lives in a big way? I haven’t seen one until Apple announced AirPlay.

What is AirPlay? It lets you play video instantly and wirelessly from your iPhone or iPad to your big-screen TV which has an Apple TV attached. I had my nephew, Kian, video me in my family room where I show you what it does.

Yes, you can already recognise the downside to this new protocol: it was developed by Apple and isn’t yet available on other devices or to developers who might, um, want to put it on Android devices.

I can see why Apple might want to keep it for itself. It’s a killer feature. Reading on Wikipedia you’d learn that the protocol lets you wirelessly stream audio, video, and photos.

But it wasn’t until the past week that we’ve seen iPad apps that really use it. In my tests with three of these apps I’ve found that they completely change my TV viewing patterns.

Here’s why.

In old-school YouTube viewing I’d watch a video on a laptop, or on my iPad, but if I wanted to show it to the whole room, say, to my wife or my sons, I’d have to get off the couch, find the remote for either my Apple TV, or a controller for my Xbox, and figure out how to browse to what I was viewing. Lots of times it was way too frustrating to find what I was viewing on the iPad that I’d just give up.

Here, try it yourself. Go watch a video on and then try to watch that same video on an Xbox, Apple TV, Roku, Boxee, PlayStation, or Wii. I have most of those devices in my family room and they are just nearly impossible to use.

It gets worse when you have your own video that you shot on your iPhone or iPad. I hate having to hand my iPad around just to show people something cute my kids did or the BBQ place we visited at SXSW.

No longer.

Now I just click a new AirPlay icon on these new apps and BOOM it starts playing on my big screen TV.

Anyway, the three apps that I’ve been using in the past month that have changed my viewing habits quite radically are:

1. TED iPad app. I love watching TED videos and since these are usually about 18 minutes each (some shorter) I like watching them on my big screen so that I can tweet on my iPad while learning from these great speakers.

2. Squrl. Squrl lets me watch lots of videos, especially from YouTube and other places, and I can curate those videos into pages. Much of the videos here are playable via AirPlay. I thought the Netflix and Hulu ones would be, but they are giving me an error, I’ll try to find out. I did an extensive video with the founder that you should watch.

3. ShowYou (just released, I have an exclusive first look and interview with Mark Hall, CEO).

After watching the video you can read more on the ShowYou blog and it’s available on iTunes now, visit the ShowYou site to get a link to it.

You can follow me on each service, I use the username “Scobleizer” on all of them.

Anyway, this is how Apple will be very successful with the Apple TV and shows you how they are going to continue to monetise long into the future.

Welcome to the “Age of AirPlay.”