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WebRTC for developers

Saturday, November 9th, 2013 by Servage

I recently attended the WebRTC Expo, where nearly 700 attendees were sharing ideas and foreseeing the bright future of the web. There was a merging of voice with video. Data, in real-time communications, became the hot topic, with the introduction of WebRTC standards for the next generation of web browsers.

Accustom to WebRTC

If you are not accustomed to the term, WebRTC, let me explain this in simple terms. WebRTC is an open source project enabling us to do seamless Real-Time Communication (RTC), utilizing the backbone of the next generation of browsers.

Our website or web application has the capacity to offer peer-to-peer connectivity through audio, video, and text, using simple JavaScript APIs without having to install of third party plug-ins in your web browser or on your device.

Do We Really Need WebRTC

You may ask why we need WebRTC, since we already have Skype and FaceTime to serve this purpose. True, but remember that Microsoft owns Skype, while FaceTime is an Apple application. We can hardly expect a fair playing ground from such proprietary platforms. Moreover, you may have already experienced Skype being unable to connect you with a particular phone somewhere around the globe. Many countries and regions, such as Gulf countries, India, etc., do not allow for Skype calling due to its low price policies and unfriendly attitude towards the laws of the respective countries.

Another significant issue with the existing real-time communication offerings is that they are bit complex to learn, since they are proprietary platform. Getting technological help is at times difficult due to a shortage with acutely trained manpower. Additionally, we are quickly heading towards an era of handheld devices for all web accessibility, and smartphones and tablets are currently not capable to bear the heavy burden of such proprietary software on their limited resources.

Therefore, making use of existing browser technologies is the recommended solution to these problems. Today, we have powerful HTML 5, jQuery, JavaScript and other browser based scripting technologies which enable us to perform in new dimensions.

The next generation of web developers will be able to create websites, web applications and mobile web apps, which will be based on the new WebRTC technologies. The web development community will have simple and free tools to create small JavaScript APIs which enable WebRTC on modern browsers, like Google Chrome – version 23, Mozilla, and others.

Open Sky

WebRTC will bring innovations for small to medium sized businesses ahead of other real-time communication facilities. Previously, these other facilities were only accessible for the big fish, due to budgetary constraints. Soon, the small e-commerce website owner will communicate with their online shoppers, just as members of the Reddit or Quora web community are interacting with each other. Inevitably, these smaller fish will find new ways to get good conversation rates.

If we think about the various industries and categories of web businesses, we will find that our academic communities have maximum potential for these WebRTC technologies, as teaching material benefits from live interactions and guidance, that is easy with WebRTC.

The next big beneficiary will be the entertainment websites where multimedia content is already a common occurrence. Consumption of these multimedia components in real-time is truly exciting and very useful. Think of the gaming industry. We will soon play games with direct interactions of all our apparatus, including ears and tongs.

Recently Google introduced Cube Slam, which uses WebRTC for its audio and video communication and to synch games in real-time. This is an excellent example demonstrating how we will play next generation games and how game development will change accordingly.

References & More Reading

WebRTC: An Opportunity for Entrepreneurial Web Developers
WebRTC – Impact Survey
WebRTC 1.0: Real-time Communication Between Browsers

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