Firefox 22 Beta Now Supports WebRTC Voice and Video Chat by Default

The standards-based technology should greatly improve communication on the web

Firefox 22 has landed in the beta channel and, while it's light on features, the ones it does bring are quite important. On top of the list is WebRTC, which is now fully baked and enabled by default.

At this point, Firefox should be able to support any WebRTC calls, video, voice, and data. It's a major step for a technology which was largely experimental or entirely on the drawing board only a year ago.

WebRTC, which stands for web real-time communications, is designed to allow browsers or any standards-compliant app to initiate and connect to video and voice chats without the need for any plugin, all with standard web technology.

It was little more than an idea a year ago, but Firefox 22 now supports getUserMedia, which handles the camera and the mic, PeerConnection, which handles the p2p communications, and DataChannels which handles arbitrary data transfers.

Those are the three components of WebRTC and they're all working by default in Firefox 22. WebRTC is mostly supported in Chrome as well, meaning you can start a call between the two browsers, if you can actually find an app that uses WebRTC.

Mozilla has a few demos set up, and you can even embed a WebRTC widget on your site with little hassle. With two major browsers supporting the technology, it's now up to developers to create great apps with it.

No doubt Google is working on it but, for the time being, Hangouts still needs a plugin for video and voice chat.

Hopefully, that will change soon. Google sure wants it, but it also wants stable technology. YouTube still uses Flash for video if available, even though it has had a HTML5 video player for years.

For now, you can grab Firefox beta, or even the stable Firefox, though you have to enable WebRTC in it, and see what you can do with it.

Next on Mozilla's agenda is support for TURN, which would enable two browsers to establish a WebRTC connection even if they are behind a router or NAT. Android support for WebRTC is planned as well.

Hot right now  ·  Latest news