WebRTC Video Conferencing, In What Browser? Take IV
Time for another update of the "state of the browser" with regard to WebRTC. We have things to tell on all fronts.
Another 8 months have passed since I last updated the browser support post here. Time for another update.
This time, we have things to tell on all fronts.
Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera
Both Chrome and Firefox now support WebRTC. There are still some differences in their behavior, but it seems like we're getting there.
In the beginning of this year, Opera joined the game as well, probably after getting WebKit working properly as their rendering engine. They now have WebRTC support.
All 3 browsers have extended their WebRTC support also to mobile--at least on Android.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
Microsoft hasn't made any obvious progress with WebRTC.
That said, they have issued their intent to implement GetUserMedia part of WebRTC, as well as "think" of implementing ORTC (which is WebRTC 2.0 API):
Little change here. Apple being Apple says nothing. Last time, I stated iOS 8 won't have WebRTC. Seems I was correct.
Two things that I can say though:
• Apple is migrating WebRTC-related code into their WebKit implementation, which is a positive move.
• I'd risk it and say that iOS 9 will have some WebRTC components in it
Not much new to report here.
API platforms are providing SDKs for mobile apps in most cases. Vendors are porting WebRTC on their own. Latest interesting use case I've seen comes from Pristine.
As time goes by, this will become easier for companies.
What I am still missing is an "off the shelf" SDK that one can just purchase or use without marrying himself to a fully-fledged API platform.
The most interesting development we have in WebRTC adoption is in the area of plugins for IE and Safari. We had two announcements lately:
1. Temasys coming out with a free binary plugin for Safari and IE
2. Priologic open-sourcing their IE plugin
Some are skeptical about these plugins, while others are already adding them to their services. It is going to be interesting to see which of these plugins gets adopted by whom.
While we have mobile browsers with WebRTC support for Android, they are still not the majority.
There are 3 concerns I have here:
1. Many of the use cases work better in an app than on a browser
2. People don't install browser apps--they use the device's default. It is either there to begin with or it isn't
3. iOS is missing
Mobile Operating Systems
On the operating system front, there are a few interesting points:
1. Android as an OS saw no change since my last update here: it still isn't a part of the Chromium webview of Android. Hopefully this will change soon
2. Firefox OS. My understanding is that WebRTC is there, though I haven't seen it. I'll be meeting with Mozilla people next week and will try to validate this one further.
Don't expect iOS or Windows to have anything in this department any time soon.
What Does the Future Have in Store?
Second half of 2014 will probably bring with it some announcements in Android mobile support for WebRTC. This is where Google is putting much of its efforts.
We will see improvements in performance and quality, but I am not sure if it will get plugged into the Android OS just yet.
The main gap left is a ready-made SDK for Android and iOS--something that is easy for app developers to pick up and integrate. I am waiting for someone to surprise me with it.