For those out there who use Firefox as their browser of choice--and there are a lot of people out there who can count that particular honor to their credit--a new version, Firefox 18, recently went into beta that's going to bring plenty of new features into play. Perhaps the biggest change to Firefox as we know it involves a powerful new technology known as Web-based real-time communications, or WebRTC.
Firefox's use of WebRTC will give users better access to real-time communications directly in their browsers in a fashion some are referring to as "browser sharing." Basically, with Firefox's WebRTC services, users will be able to not only perform the functions they're used to performing in the Firefox environment, but also have access to video calling in real-time right from the browser itself, as opposed to getting it from a separate program like Skype. It also allows Web app developers to more readily introduce the video conferencing concept to their own application development. This in turn has given rise to video chatting and the like in unexpected areas like gaming.
While WebRTC may well be the biggest new addition to Firefox 18, it won't be the only one. Firefox's use of the Gecko layout engine means that most of the current Web standards will be in play, as well as increased image quality thanks to a new HTML scaling algorithm. Better tab switching--already a pretty solid area of performance for Firefox--is also on tap.
Mozilla's Firefox browser has been regarded by many as one of the first major competitors to Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominance which itself came about when it beat one of its original major competitors in Netscape Navigator. We've already seen that in a lot of ways, the use of the Internet as a communication medium is rapidly gaining ground. Mobile VoIP is replacing standard voice and even some texting applications in the mobile arena, and the number of people replacing cable television with Internet-based alternatives is also on the rise in recent days. To see Firefox more readily accommodate WebRTC isn't all that surprising, and rather serves as one more indicator in an already crowded field of same that the communications market is poised for change once more.
Only time will tell just what the fullest impact of Firefox's use of WebRTC is, but it's a safe bet--a very safe bet--that offerings like this one will be at least part of the changes that are to come.
Edited by Rachel Ramsey