Tech Industry

WebRTC fully operational in Firefox beta

Mozilla preps Firefox for plug-in free, real-time communications in the browser.

The quest to free the browser from plug-ins that can impede performance took another step forward on Thursday when Mozilla activated by default Web Real-Time Communication in its latest Firefox beta.

WebRTC, as it's known, is the HTML5 standard for streaming files, video, and audio on the Web. Mozilla activated getUserMedia in Firefox in April, which WebRTC uses to access the Webcam and microphone. Now, PeerConnection and DataChannels have been turned on in the Firefox 22 Beta, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

PeerConnection lets the browser set up real-time video and audio calls, while DataChannels enables peer-to-peer data sharing during a call. That data can be just about anything, including text, video files, and HTML pages, and it can be shared using standard drag-and-drop techniques. Mozilla noted in its blog post about WebRTC in Firefox that DataChannels can be used by gaming apps to reduce latency during peer-to-peer connections.

Other improvements in the Firefox 22 Beta include an OdinMonkey, an ASM.js optimization module that ought to make the browser load JavaScript much faster; HiDPI support for scaling on high-resolution Windows screens; and Web Notifications API support, for in-browser alerts like you get on your phone. Web developers will like the new Font Inspector tool to make it easier to match fonts.

Coming improvements to WebRTC in Firefox include TURN support, which will allow WebRTC to work with firewalls, and Android support, although it's not clear yet if those will arrive before WebRTC lands in the stable build of Firefox in about six weeks.