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Ericsson Updates its WebRTC Mobile Browser

December 07, 2015

The WebRTC-based web browser known as Bowser has inched closer to commercial reality, with an experimental version 0.6 release.

The update is rife with fixes and improvements for better performance for the browser, which bills itself as the world's first WebRTC-enabled browser for mobile devices. It’s open-source and available on both iOS and Android.

Bowser is a research project, for all intents and purposes, developed by Ericsson Research. As such, it’s built on Ericsson’s OpenWebRTC, a developer platform that supports builds of native WebRTC apps. OpenWebRTC is especially focused on mobile platforms, to make use of features like hardware-accelerated video coding and OpenGL-based video rendering.

"The WebRTC standard is still evolving and developers are finding new ways of using the technology every day,” said Stefan Ålund, research manager at Ericsson Research. “Our engineers have built OpenWebRTC in a way that makes it super-simple to modify and extend, leaving room for even more experimentation with API's and new features."

When it’s finally developed enough to be released to the world as a fully baked product, Bowser will enable Web developers to add real-time audio and video functionality to their Web applications. A Web application can establish audio and video calls with another device or call audio/visual services, using the WebRTC API that Bowser exposes.

Image via Pixabay

Looking to fix crashing issues in previous iterations, the latest version of Bowser has incorporated WKWebView, which adds new APIs for injecting JavaScript effectively. This solved a big issue in previous versions: Due to timing issues when injecting the WebRTC bridge, reloads and page navigation sometimes caused Bowser to lose its WebRTC functionality.

That update has also meant that on Apple devices, Bowser will now require iOS 9.0, as there are issues with WKWebView on iOS 8.x.

The new version also added 32-bit device support and builds in several WebRTC standards compliancy fixes, including support for proper "createOffer.” It now uses the OpenWebRTC-SDK CocoaPod too, which recently got updated to better support hybrid WebRTC app development.

Ericsson also said that video delay has been reduced significantly for both hardware-accelerated H.264 encoding as well as VP8.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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