WebRTC World Feature Article

February 05, 2013

WebRTC Enables First Cross-Browser Video Chat between Firefox, Chrome

Cross-browser chat sessions? Conventional wisdom (and long, tiresome experience) tells us that browsers are like dogs and cats, apples and oranges, oil and water. Everybody knows they don’t mix…right?

That was the case, until a little standard called WebRTC showed up in the most recent versions of two of the most popular browsers – Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox.

WebRTC (short for “Web Real-Time Communications”) is a newish standard: a free, open project that allows high-quality, real-time communication applications to be developed in the browser via simple Java APIs and HTML5. In essence, it’s a technology that makes it much easier to communicate over the Internet on a peer-to-peer basis, allowing Web users to use click-to-text or click-to-call buttons, video conferencing and other Web-based communications technology, with no need to first download an application or a plug-in.

And because it’s built into the newest iterations of Chrome and Firefox, this means cross-browser communications.

Demonstrating that the goal of WebRTC to offer truly software-independent video and voice chat, Google and Mozilla recently demonstrated that it's now possible to “reach across the aisle,” Engadget is reporting today.

Mozilla’s Chief of Innovation, Todd Simpson, held a demo voice and video chat with Hugh Finnan, Director of Product Management for Google Chrome. See it below. 

Of course, it requires the very latest versions of the two browsers.

“Should one user run Chrome 25 beta and the other run a nightly build of Firefox, a flag switch will let the two sides hold a video conversation solely through a Web app,” according to the article. “This doesn't mean we're about to toss out Google Talk or Skype, mind you: even when finished versions of the browsers appear, we'll need both a completed WebRTC standard and the Web developer support to see broader usage. Nonetheless, it's clear that cross-browser chat is at least on the horizon.”

This is only the beginning for WebRTC, though. In the near future, WebRTC could be combined with technologies such as facial recognition and 2-D or 3-D graphics, which would allow developers to build a wide variety of products – including interactive games.

The applications for social media are very broad and will ultimately allow people to virtually “hang out” together, co-browsing, watching video, chatting face-to-face and even shopping together with much less fuss than proprietary technologies required before.

Edited by Braden Becker


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