WebRTC is finally playing in the major leagues, being adopted by the biggest companies in tech from Facebook and Google to Slack and Mozilla.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma that WebRTC is predominantly used for browser-to-browser applications.
Even the article on Wikipedia has a misleading description of that:
We also responded to TechCrunch’s claim that 2015 was WebRTC’s year with an emphasis that support for WebRTC will be on mobile apps as opposed to browsers, as commonly used on the desktop.
Let’s take a look at both browser support and mobile adoption for WebRTC.
Major browsers from Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Ericsson’s Bowser all support WebRTC at this moment, allowing huge possibilities for browser-to-browser applications.
Microsoft has announced plans to support ORTC, also known as WebRTC 1.1 in Internet Explorer and since Apple will not come to the table, many users on Mac opt for Google Chrome for WebRTC support over Safari.
But the magic is in mobile platforms, and with the support for Android and iOS, the lack of WebRTC support in Safari and Internet Explorer matters little.
Mozilla’s Hello added WebRTC for both web and mobile versions of the Firefox browser, with their Loop project for Hello mentioning that it is also available for Firefox OS 2.0 and later.
Mozilla uses the major components of WebRTC, from gUM for access to the user’s webcam and microphone, PeerConnection to enable calls from one browser to another, and DataChannels for P2P data transfer.
Google Hangouts adopted WebRTC in late last 2014, but it is a curious case, with some non-standardized WebRTC features such as SDED for encryption, RTP-based data channels, to per-candidate ICE parameters.
This causes some restrictions on interoperability with Firefox, but the accessibility of the app on mobile devices for anyone with a google account is clear reason to get important data from the MAUs.
Apart from the minor lack of browser support from Safari and IE, the 600 million MAUs (Monthly Active Users) on Messenger is huge for WebRTC adoption across mobile usage.
There have been some guesses on whether Whatsapp is on the WebRTC train and it has been deeply analysed with a beautiful teardown of the app by on webrtchacks.
An inspection into the binary shows both PJSIP and several strings hinting at the use of elements from the webrtc.org voice engine such as the acoustic echo cancellation (AEC), AECM, gain control (AGC), noise suppression and the high-pass filter — Philipp Hancke
While limited elements of WebRTC are present, the adoption of it in Whatsapp, along with Hello, Hangouts and Messenger are showing the way for mobile.
Apart from the likes of Hangouts and Messenger from giants in tech, there are other mobile apps that adopt WebRTC. They are not insignificant, showing the great possibilities for the future for cross-browser, app and device communication.
A Mobile messaging app, with calling and conferencing on the iPhone.
Video conference calls in a chat room of up to 8 people for supported web browsers and mobile through an iPhone app.
A calling and messaging app available on Android, iOS and OS X, with a web browser version recently released.
The value of WebRTC powering communications needs no further validation, with these apps leading the pioneer charge of providing of providing new ways to communicate across devices.
Communications are not stuck to a single platform as we continue to use multiple devices.
Enter Slack and Hipchat.
With 500,000 daily active users on slack, the majority of usage most likely remains on browsers or as a desktop app, due to those being the primary devices for work.
Their foray into WebRTC is vindication for WebRTCs adaptability across communication devices.
The future is clear. By powering the giants of tech, WebRTC is definitely here to stay.
Integrating it allows for the medium to be interoperable — from browsers to mobile and desktop apps, for all kinds of utilities for communications. Mobile, however, will continue to point the direction of its future.
With mobile surpassing desktop and taking up 60% of digital media time in the US, the ‘mobile moment’ has already arrived.
Get involved, now.
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