Wednesday, 26 June 2013

WebRTC - Is This the Future Of VoIP?

It was almost ten years ago when I started dabbling with the first PC-based IP-Telephony services; some of which I can't even recall their names.  This was perhaps around, or even before Skype was born.  Back then, if I used the term "VoIP", almost no one knew what I was talking about.  I had to spell it out:  "Voice Over Internet Protocol".  Even then, many people didn't know what it was without a full explanation. Now, everyone knows about VoIP, and large portions of society are using it on a daily basis at home, work, and on the go with their smartphones and tablets.

So, here I am ten years later and now I'm hearing a lot of commotion about a new kid on the block known as WebRTC.  Now days, because we are all Internet savvy, the word about anything new spreads fast. And, from what I'm seeing and reading, the news about WebRTC is spreading like wildfire.

WebRTC - Web Real Time Communications, is a web browser based IP-communications implementation that relies on JavaScript and HTML5.  What this means is that the basic voice and video engine framework resides directly within your Internet connected web browser.  No external software or plug-ins to install.  All you need to engage in a voice and video chat is your web browser, a microphone (or headset) and video camera (USB connected, or a camera built-in to your PC, tablet, etc).

Currently, the latest versions of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox "natively" support WebRTC multimedia communications via their built-in JavaScript and HTML5.

At present, the important aspect of WebRTC is to know that this is a peer-to-peer browser-to-browser communications platform.  It does not rely on any social networks or VoIP service providers to work.

For example, you may think WebRTC is just another flavour of a service like Google's Gmail Voice and Video Chat.  The difference is that services like Gmail and Skype require user accounts and logins to enable use of their voice and video services.  But, because WebRTC inherently has the ability to be direct browser-to-browser communications, no user accounts are required for WebRTC to work.  Now, just because WebRTC does not require user accounts to implement, this doesn't mean a company or service providing their own novel implementation of WebRTC will not require you to create an account to use their specific implementation.

This may well be the dawn of a new age of multimedia communications in its infancy.  It's looking like we are all going to be hearing and seeing lots of news popping-up on a weekly, if not daily basis about new companies and services supporting and providing their own flavour and implementation of WebRTC-based voice and video chat and conferencing services.