WebRTC gets real as Google adds more video chat functionality to Chrome

Google added a key component of the WebRTC framework to the latest beta edition of its Chrome web browser Tuesday, enabling third-party developers to build video chat applications that don’t require any kind of downloadable plug-in. The technology could one day be used to natively provide Google Hangouts video chats in Chrome.

Google software engineer Justin Uberti shared the news on the company’s Chromium blog:

“Chrome now includes the PeerConnection API, which allows developers to create web apps with real-time audio and video calling without the need for a plug-in. Together, PeerConnection and thegetUserMedia API represent the next steps in WebRTC, a new standard which aims to allow high quality video, audio, and data communications on the web.”

Uberti illustrated the capabilities of the new API with a demo video chat application, which can be accessed after installing the latest Chrome beta release.

WebRTC is a big deal for Google: The company aims to replace the proprietary plugin it has been using to facilitate Google+ Hangout video chats with a standards-based solution that would work in a variety of browsers without the download of any additional plugins. WebRTC could also eventually lead to more interoperability across a number of video chat and messaging services, and it could be an even bigger disruption to mobile video communication.

However, it is likely going to take some time before WebRTC becomes a widely adopted standard. Microsoft publicly joined the WebRTC camp in August – but also slowed things down a bit by proposing a different approach than then one now implemented by Google.

Image courtesy of Flickr user  Tsahi Levent-Levi.