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10 July 2012, 14:02

Chrome 21 beta improves camera and microphone support

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Google Chrome logo With the latest beta release of Chrome, web applications can now directly access a local system's camera and microphone. The new functionality has appeared with the publication of Chrome 21 in Chrome's Beta Channel for testing. Traditionally, accessing the camera and microphone is done using an additional plugin such as Flash.

Chrome 21 implements this functionality using the HTML5 getUserMedia API, currently a W3C Editors Draft, to provide access to the camera and microphone after the user has granted it permission by responding to a prompt. The developers say that this is Chrome's "first big step" towards implementing the Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC) standard, which enables browsers to use JavaScript to control real-time communications. The new getUserMedia API support also enables capabilities such as motion detection – one demo, from StinkDigital, lets users play a xylophone by waving their hands,

Other changes in Chrome beta include improvements to Google's Cloud Print technology, which allows users to print over the web from PCs, smartphones and tablets. A Gamepad JavaScript API has been added to enable the use of game controllers with web-based games. Further details about the beta can be found in a post on the Chromium Blog.

On the same day as releasing the beta of Chrome 21, Google also published version 22.0.1201.0 to the web browser's Dev Channel. The most notable change affects Mac users: Chrome 22 now requires Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later, dropping support for Mac OS X 10.5.

The Chrome 21.0.1180.15 beta version and 22.0.1201.0 development version are available through the Chrome releases page for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Existing Beta or Dev Channel users will be automatically upgraded using the built-in update function. The current stable branch is Chrome 20 released at the end of June. Chrome is built from Chromium, the open source browser project run by Google.

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