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November 18, 2013

WebRTC is the Future, But For Now it Needs an App

There’s a lot of talk about WebRTC as the future of calling, but getting there will take some time.

The technology is ready to implement today, but companies large and small need to figure out how best to use it and how to pull it off successfully given that adoption is still patchy.

“WebRTC is ready to use, mature enough to be integrated on large scale services,” noted Arnaud Budkiewicz, co-founder and CEO of WebRTC solution provider, Bistri. “Decision-makers will need to choose if they build their entire solution by themselves, or if they come to WebRTC experts like us, enjoying a robust platform used by millions of users.”

One question right now is how to make calls using WebRTC act like normal cellular calls.

The promise of WebRTC is that there’s no software to install, no user accounts to create, no codecs to fiddle with and no compatibility issues. Users can just open a Web browser or Web-enabled device and make calls with the simple click of a button.

That’s the promise, at least. But smartphone manufacturers such as Apple and Microsoft have not yet integrated WebRTC into their handsets, so currently calls made with WebRTC are not yet as convenient as cellular calls.

Ironically, the current best practice for frictionless calls with WebRTC is the use of smartphone apps. While WebRTC does not need software, just an HTML5-compatible browser, the current lack of specific support from smartphone operating systems necessitates the use of an app to make calling fully functional.

“Presence management is the key,” stressed Budkiewicz. “If you really use a WebRTC-based video calling solution, you need to make your smartphone ring when you receive an incoming call.” That’s not possible currently without an app, although there’s no technological reason why an iPhone is unable to wake itself when someone tries to call it using WebRTC.

Second, delivering a consistent user interface currently requires the control that comes with an app.

“It is impossible to have a pixel-perfect UI with the same piece of HTML code, especially if you want the same effects, the same UX on every iOS and Android devices,” noted Budkiewicz.

His company is filling the void with a native Android app that lets users place and receive video calls with WebRTC, regardless of if they use the same app or a WebRTC-capable browser. It also has an iOS app that will debut soon.

At the WebRTC Conference & Expo that starts tomorrow, Bistri will show off its WebRTC Android app, as well as the first WebRTC app available for Google Glass. Attendees will also have the opportunity to take a peek at the company’s Chrome app available on all major platforms, including Windows, MacOS, Linux and--of course--ChromeOS.

The promise of making video calls or video conferences in one click is what convinces users, Budkiewicz said.

He added, “Thirty-five percent of the millions of minutes of video calls served in the last months by Bistri used WebRTC.”



Want to learn more about the latest in WebRTC? Be sure to attend WebRTC Conference & Expo, Nov. 19-21 in Santa Clara, Calif. Stay in touch with everything happening at WebRTC Conference & Expo. Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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