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December 18, 2012

WebRTC Expected to Greatly Improve Social Apps

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) is bringing about major changes in the way people communicate – especially in the social sector.

Being drawn up by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), WebRTC provides Web browsers with real-time communication capabilities via Javascript APIs, according to Webrtcworld. There are many benefits to the new tool – such as for video conferencing and gaming. It is also well-suited for social apps.

“Sometimes when you’re chatting with a friend, you just want to click on their name and see and talk with them in real-time,” said Maire Reavy, product lead, Firefox Platform Media in a recent blog post. “Imagine being able to do that without any glitches or hassles, and then while talking with them, easily share almost anything on your computer or device: vacation photos, memorable videos – or even just a link to a news story you thought they might be interested in – simply by dragging the item into your video chat window.”

In a recent video, Todd Simpson, chief of innovation at Mozilla, (the developers of the Firefox Web browser) explains how integration takes place between a social API and WebRTC.  

It allows for a video/audio call with the stream of the other person appearing in a window. The window floats as a user changes websites, so the conversation continues wherever the user goes on the web. The user can also provide the other person video, audio, images, files or other content – just by dropping it on the other person’s site. That way, both people can see the same content – and can discuss or review it at the same time.

Some of the other features include getUserMedia, which allows a developer to easily capture a user’s microphone and camera data, and PeerConnection, which allows for encrypted video/audio calling. A third feature is DataChannels, which sends accessible data.

Mozilla expects to add video conferencing app features, quicker call connections and additional video/audio options.

The WebRTC initiative is supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera. The WebRTC API is now available in Chrome for developers.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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