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20 January 2012, 11:53

WebRTC now in Chrome's development channel

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WebRTC, the open project to enable browsers to use JavaScript to control real-time communications, has been integrated into the development channel of Google's Chrome browser to give the technology wider exposure. According to the announcement, the developers have integrated "a slightly older version" of the specification for WebRTC than the current W3C version of the specification. The developers say that they hope to catch up quickly with the W3C specification now that the code is in Chrome. Once WebRTC is complete and widely implemented in browsers, web applications will need no plugins or other technology to, for example, allow a site user to engage in a video chat with a support engineer.

An earlier build of the WebRTC code was integrated with Chromium, the open source version of Chrome, back in June 2011. WebRTC was open sourced in June 2011 by Google and is also supported by Mozilla and Opera. It is based in part on technology from Global IP Solutions, a company Google acquired in 2010, and uses iLBC (a low bit rate codec), iSAC (a wideband speech codec), G.711 (an ITU-T compression standard) and G.722 (an ITU-T speech codec standard) to handle audio and Google's VP8 codec for video. This technology is wrapped in a JavaScript API with which developers can create a PeerConnection object and use it to connect to and route remote audio and video streams and locally generated streams from cameras and microphones.

The new Chrome integration will allow developers interested in creating applications with audio and video chat capabilities a chance to more easily experiment and give feedback on the API. The WebRTC API is not enabled by default and users will need to use "--enable-media-stream" as a switch when starting Chrome. There is also, for obvious reasons, a lack of services available to test WebRTC with; for now developers will need to build or obtain a binary for peerconnection server and test the API with their own server and two instances of the browser.

WebRTC technology is distributed under a 3 clause BSD licence with an additional IP rights grant to cover the various patents involved.


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