Firefox for Android beta ushers mobile streaming to Chromecast, Roku

Two Firefox betas focus on media: enabling video streams to Chromecast and Roku via Android-based mobile devices and creating a free in-browser competitor to Skype on desktops.

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Mozilla's efforts to keep mobile Firefox competitive include adding remote streaming-media support to a new build of the browser.

The star of Firefox for Android Beta 33 -- released Thursday night -- is the "send to device" video-streaming feature that enables you to stream videos on your mobile gadget to a TV or another second screen. When you load a site on your mobile device that includes embedded video, an icon will appear in the URL bar letting you know you can begin streaming.

Tapping the icon will open a list of connected devices you can stream to. Once streaming, a media control bar will open at the bottom of the screen that lets you pause, play, and close videos. The bar is persistent, so you can load other websites while streaming.

Using the feature with Roku requires one more step than using it with Chromecast. Roku requires you to first add the Firefox Channel to your Roku service.

Meanwhile, the also-just-released Firefox Beta 33 for desktops introduces a competitor to Microsoft's Skype and Google's Hangouts. Citing numerous services -- but not by name -- that require turning over personal information and account registration, the as-yet unnamed Mozilla service doesn't require anything except Firefox.

Powered by WebRTC (Real-Time Communication) -- the plugin-free browser protocol for streaming audio, video, and data -- Firefox's new service allows for free video calls between Firefox Beta users. To use it, you go to the Firefox Customize menu and add the speech bubble icon to your toolbar. Adventurous Firefox Beta users can test it out here.

Mozilla has been a long-time proponent of WebRTC, and Google was one of WebRTC's earliest adopters. Google has liberated Hangouts from requiring a plugin thanks to WebRTC, although using it requires a Google account while Mozilla's upstart system doesn't.

However, not everyone is a fan WebRTC. Microsoft would rather see its competing ORTC protocol, short for Object Real-Time Communications, adopted by browsers. Given that both are relatively new, it could be awhile before that standards battle gets resolved.

Full release notes for Firefox Beta 33 are available here.

 

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