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03 December 2012, 16:15

Mozilla demos WebRTC-based Social API in Firefox

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Mozilla has presented a demonstration of what it hopes to achieve with future social features in Firefox that make use of the new WebRTC capabilities in the browser. The Social API and its sidebar interface were integrated into Firefox 17 and the latest beta version of the browser adds WebRTC functionality which gives the browser the ability to transmit voice, video and data. Mozilla's demonstration shows how the Social API, working with WebRTC, allows for richer video-, audio- and image-based social networking and collaboration.

The introductory video presented Todd Simpson, Mozilla's Chief of Innovation, shows the ability to have chat conversations and start video calls from within the browser. Users can drag images and videos into the conversation, which will open the corresponding web site in a new tab in the other person's instance of Firefox. This functionality is being implemented in the new Firefox sidebar that houses the end-user-visible content from the browser's Social API. Mozilla's implementation uses the getUserMedia JavaScript API and the PeerConnection and DataChannel objects from WebRTC to create secure peer-to-peer audio and video calling and data transfers.

Todd Simpson shows WebRTC-based video calling and data transfer in Firefox

Not all of the features demonstrated in the video are available yet, but interested developers can try out basic video calling and data transfers between two participants in the latest Firefox Beta. However, this functionality is experimental and has to be explicitly enabled in Firefox's about:config options. More information about how to do this is available in a post on Mozilla Hacks. The developers ask that users report any bugs in Mozilla's bug tracker under the category Product:Core ➤ Component:WebRTC.

Mozilla also released an update to Firefox 17, 17.0.1, which addressed a privacy issue in the Social API and Sidebar. It appears that when a user had privacy mode enabled and then exited that mode, the browser forgot to flush the Social API's settings, leaving the sidebar with active content. According to the release notes, the Social API privacy issue, a font rendering bug and a problem with user agent changes were all fixed in the update.


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