Mozilla and Google have demonstrated the power of the recently-announced Web standard, WebRTC, by making the first ever cross-browser video call. The call is said to be a major milestone in WebRTC development and paves the way for further development of the RTCPeerConnection interoperability between Firefox, Chrome and other browsers. The companies posted entries on the Mozilla Hacks blog as well as the Chromium blog detailing the call and some of the potential applications of WebRTC.
The companies posted a link to the same YouTube video (below), which shows Hugh Finnan, Google’s Director of Product Management, and Todd Simpson, Mozilla’s Chief Innovation Officer, in conversation using the standard.
Chrome and Firefox now have a hotline
Engineers from both Mozilla and Google worked in close conjunction with the open Web community to show off the latest tricks in their open source browsers. RTCPeerConnection or simply PeerConnection (PC) interoperability means that developers can now create Firefox WebRTC applications that make direct audio/video calls to Chrome WebRTC applications without involving third-party plugins, which have proved to be vulnerable to security breaches.
To try this, you’ll need to install Chrome 25 Beta and Firefox Nightly for Desktop. In Chrome, the WebRTC is enabled out of the box, but Firefox users will need to make some adjustments. The Mozilla blog says users can get on board by setting the media.peerconnection.enabled pref to ‘true’ (browse to about:config and search for the media.peerconnection.enabled pref in the list of prefs). Users can then visit the WebRTC demo site and start calling.
Developers looking to include WebRTC functionality in their apps can take a gander at the source code of the AppRTC demo. The same page also has a library that makes writing cross-browser WebRTC apps a cinch. However, there are slight differences between developing for Firefox and Chrome. The WebRTC domain has a list of guidelines explaining them.
Mozilla also showed off a demo of WebRTC integrated with Social API, with the first ever implementation of DataChannels for the Web. This component of the WebRTC standard allow users to share almost anything on their computer or device, besides making calls. Users can share photos, videos, links and news stories via a simple drag-and-drop action.
One cool feature of the WebRTC integration with Social API is explained on an earlier Mozilla blog entry: “getUserMedia allows a developer to capture the user’s camera and microphone data (with the user’s permission) easily. It was actually pretty complicated for a browser to capture camera or microphone data before getUserMedia. Expect to see browser apps that can capture and readily manipulate camera data (think Instagram) popping up as this new technology takes off.”
Earlier this month, Mozilla released an update for Firefox that included preliminary support for WebRTC. The purpose of WebRTC, an open standard, is to provide a common platform for all user devices to communicate and share audio, video and data in real-time. Mozilla sees this as the first step towards interoperability and open, real-time communication on the web.
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