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Chrome 47 Boosts WebRTC Developments

December 10, 2015

It might be a Skype killer, the next big thing in communications, or just another addition to the growing panoply of business tools. It's Web-based real time communications (WebRTC), and the new release of Chrome 47 brought with it a set of new tools to bolster WebRTC on several fronts.

One of the biggest new additions is the MediaStreamRecorder API, which has been frequently requested by the user base. Garnering over 2,500 stars on chromium.org, bringing media recording capabilities to WebRTC is a high priority, and now it's in play, if on a limited basis. Recently added to the Web Platform features flag, the recording capabilities are currently a desktop-only proposition. For desktop users, however, the ability is now in place to record, replay, or even download video for playback on other stations. Audio support, sadly, is not yet in place, and there's no internal buffering in use, so this feature still has a ways to go.

Further news came from the release of MediaDevices.enumerateDevices, a tool which allows for enumeration of audio output devices, alongside the audio and video input devices already provided by MediaStreamTrack.getSources. There's newfound support for default communications devices—this actually works with device enumeration, and makes one communications device with the ID “communications”—and some new tools for handling proxies as well. With the new proxy tools, WebRTC traffic can be forced through a proxy server, sometimes important for users working with virtual private networks (VPNs). Google Developers cautioned that this would impact performance, so users would have to weigh the benefits carefully.

Several other benefits were also introduced, or at least being prepared for: the data channel's throughput got a boost for those with connections that had particularly high latency, and support was planned for DTLS 1.2, VP9, and H.264 in upcoming rounds. Those interested in checking out the changes can find several demo versions on hand at Google Developers.

More than anything, this shows that WebRTC is still going strong. While the pace of advances released at the user level may not be all that stunning, there's little doubt that the advances are coming. WebRTC is a technology that's getting better with each passing day, if only a little better, and that's got to be serving as a real concern for Skype, among others. Skype isn't all that much different than it was eight years ago, but WebRTC starts to look like a different animal with every new release.

This is a technology with serious potential to shake up communications for businesses and individual users alike, and one that may put its competitors at a crippling disadvantage. WebRTC's growth and development has been exciting to watch so far, and each new version shows us the power this system has for communications. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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