Google adds WebRTC to Chrome for in-browser voice, video chat

The open-source technology is now integrated with the Dev Channel

Google has built the WebRTC technology into a test version of Chrome to let the browser run voice and video chat applications within the browser interface.

Chrome's Dev Channel version now has WebRTC, a technology Google acquired in 2010 and open sourced last year that uses Javascript APIs (application programming interfaces) and HTML5 to give browsers native, real-time communications capabilities.

"Building industry-leading voice and video capabilities into the browser makes it easier for web developers to incorporate real time communications in their apps. Instead of relying on custom, OS specific, proprietary plug-ins, they can now easily build and maintain their apps using a few simple JavaScript APIs and have the browser do the heavy lifting," Niklas Enbom, a Google software engineer, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.

WebRTC, which is also being supported by browser makers Mozilla and Opera, is being considered for standard status at the W3C and the IETF. Companies like Polycom, Vonage, Vehix.com, Semens and PCCW are developing browser-based applications using the technology, according to Enbom.

Google acquired WebRTC when it bought Global IP Solutions in 2010 and released it as open-source code in mid-2011. With WebRTC, developers will be able to create voice and video chat applications that execute inside the browser, without users needing to install plug-ins, according to the technology's website.

"[WebRTC] includes the fundamental building blocks for high quality communications on the web such as network, audio and video components used in voice and video chat applications," reads a description. "These components, when implemented in a browser, can be accessed through a Javascript API, enabling developers to easily implement their own RTC web app."

Google wants Web browsers to be as fast and as capable of running applications as possible, which is why it came out with its own browser, Chrome, and made its development project, Chromium, open source.

There are four tiers of Chrome browser releases: the Canary Build, non-tested and not guaranteed to run; the Dev Channel, tested but likely to contain bugs; the Beta Channel, more tested and polished; and the Stable Channel, which is fully tested.

Juan Carlos Perez covers search, social media, online advertising, e-commerce, web application development, enterprise cloud collaboration suites and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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