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Google Chrome To Have Real-Time Communications 121

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-prefer-fake-time dept.
kai_hiwatari writes "Last month, Google released an open-source project called WebRTC which aims to enables Real-Time Communications capabilities in the web browsers through simple JavaScript APIs. Now, they have taken the first step towards having WebRTC built into Chrome. With WebRTC, developers will be able to build voice and video applications using nothing more than HTML and JavaScript. This is a powerful technology which can challenge services like Skype."
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Google Chrome To Have Real-Time Communications

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  • Permission? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If this is done through javascript then is it possible to start running these services automatically without user oversight? Could lead to some interesting spyware opportunities.

    • Not sure about the technology but my personal bet is that it is just a protocol sitting on top of websockets.
      Websockets do not exactly allow cross site calls.

    • by Timmmm (636430)

      Yes I'm sure they haven't thought of that blindingly obvious possibility. Well done anonymous slashdotter, you have out-smarted the best minds of Google!

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @04:03PM (#36518610) Journal

    Looking up WebRTC's license right now, says it's open source. Can't wait for the other browsers to pick up on this. I just hope it warns users before allowing access to the camera and mic.

    • by zarthrag (650912) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @04:09PM (#36518742)
      I'm sure Apple is drawing up a patent on allowing the camera and mic to be turned on remotely, without permission. Probably in response to certain keywords.
      • Hah, that's not even trolling, with all the remote-bugging tech they've been patenting recently. I honestly wouldn't be surprised.

      • I'm pretty sure there are laws, at least in the US, that require devices to have an indication that they are recording.
        • by jijacob (943393)
          The Kinect doesn't.
          • Huh? I might be remembering wrongly, but I'm fairly sure my Kinect has a big green light on it.

            • by cgenman (325138)

              Yes. And a red light, used to scan depth.

              Also, the Kinect calibrates by panning up and down. If you see your camera nodding at you, it's probably recording.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Maybe, but they didn't used to.

          The first gen Logitech webcams didn't have a light, and the second gen had a call to turn off the light and keep recording.

          They where also exposed, so you could surf your neighbors camera, tel it to keep the light of an record.
          I sent them an email with my code. The next patch removed the API functionality that allowed the light to be turned off.

          They never responded, so I don't know if I was why they changed it, or a sudden burst of sense in whomever wrote their APIs.

          ah, the 90

        • by zarthrag (650912)
          You have to have consent, but I don't think devices require any kind of indicator - or nanny cams would be illegal. Though, in modern cases, consent might already be covered in the EULA.
    • I'm sure that it warns users about it before having access to the camera and mic
  • ...use JavaScript for this sort of thing? Why the special need for "WebRTC"?
    • by NoSig (1919688)
      I'd rather not have video compression implemented in slow Javascript (even if it is getting faster). I also imagine that you can't access web cam peripherals from Javascript without some kind of browser extension, though I don't know.
    • by yarnosh (2055818)

      Javascript doesn't have Peer to Peer communication. Normally you're not allowed to make JS connections to anything but the server the JS came from. And even then, you can only make HTTP connections. And you certainly can't listen for incoming connections from peers. And then there's the lack of access to audio and video inputs.... So, there are many reasons why WebRTC is required.

      • Yeah - I'm really interested to see if WebRTC combined with the Mozilla "Verified Email" incubator project gets us away from the server owns my identity world of today.. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Identity [mozilla.org]

        Seems like then all you need the servers for are to issue short-lived identity certificates and host public keys to verify the certs. Then we could do some interesting browser to browser tech without having servers to authenticate every step.. Some interesting P2P tools could emerge. Hmm.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Imagine Facebook: TNG where everything you're doing right now is broadcast immediately to everyone else.

    • Imagine Facebook: TNG where everything you're doing right now is broadcast immediately to everyone else.

      As opposed to the masses who are doing this already?

      Reminds me of that ST:TNG episode where Wesley saves the day (of course!) by not falling victim to the 'game' everybody is playing. "It's almost easier if you just let it play itself".

      • No Data saved the day. Wesley just avoided the game long enough for find Data disabled and Turned him back on.

      • that would be the episode named, oddly enough: "The Game". And how come no one here remembers Robin Lefler's involvement?

  • I wonder if there's anything from a technical point of view that would prevent this from working on mobile devices, such as iPads and Android phones and tablets? If they're looking for wide adoption, I'll bet that getting it running on everyone's mobile or tablet would make it a killer app.
    • Processing power might be a problem on recent devices. That's why they didn't bother add webcam support into the Flash version shipped with the N900 (800Mhz ARM, same CPU as iPhone 3GS)

      Most phones now are 1GHz+ or dual core so it probably won't be an issue by the time this is in use.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        My Droid has a similar CPU and video chat with it only sucks due to the lack of a front facing camera. You have to use a mirror, they make one you can stick on. Webcam support in flash was not added on the N900 because flash sucks, not because it is that CPU intensive to encode low res video.

  • by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @04:08PM (#36518724)
    I know Google has this whole web-based vision where everything is accessed through the browser, but I'd rather see this as a stand-alone app. I like my web browser to browse the web, my softphone to make calls, my email client to check my email, and my word processor to process my words. Heck, Windows 8 will be written in HTML/Javascript, and Gnome Shell is written in Javascript, so I don't expect to have to wait too long for a native app. I just can't wait for the cloud bubble to burst so we can go back to having traditional software again.
    • Why in Chrome?

      Why is Skype as popular as it is?

      The answer is ubiquity. Everybody has Skype.

      Packaging it in Chrome means that you get a significant user base without requiring people to install *another* client.

      • Packaging it in Chrome means that you get a significant user base without requiring people to install *another* client.

        Isn't that how Microsoft became evil? They bundled in windows certified printer driver to nullify the advantage WordPerfect had, that it would print on any printer. They bundled in IE to kill Netscape...

        • but but it's from teh Google!!!!
        • by geekoid (135745)

          No. MS became evil through shady sales tactics, bad security, and pushing others out of the industry by hook or by crook

          'Bundling' was just the focus of there legal issues regarding a monopoly.

          Breaking your software for the explicit reason of not letting other peoples applications work is different then 'bundling'.

          If chrome makes it so no other webcam or mic software worked, you would have a comparison.

        • Not comparable. Google is just shipping the technology, anyone can write their own client using it.

          Not to mention that the tech is BSD licensed, so it won't be a Chrome-only advantage.

      • by yarnosh (2055818)

        Packaging it in Chrome means that you get a significant user base without requiring people to install *another* client.

        And what's wrong with installing a client? You'd rather have to keep a tab open for your chat/video client to work?

        • by Bucky24 (1943328)
          You and I (and likely parent) don't have a problem with this, but to the average user, its just one more program they have to install.
        • What's easier to tell somebody who wants to chat with you?

          Go to this website, download X, install it, click here etc etc etc

          or

          Click on this link I sent you in an email and start talking?

          • by yarnosh (2055818)

            Between Skype, Yahoo, Gtalk, and yes, even AIM, chances are I already have a service in common with someone I might want to chat with. Hell, I even have a Facebook account that I don't actively use if it comes down to that. And they do have an in browser chat or I can setup Adium to use Facebook IM, though it kinda sucks. For voice I would normally just use a phone. Crazy, I know.

            • And what about voice conferencing and video?

              I mean, let's face it, Skype is dominant because of its market penetration. A web based solution or imbedding in a browser that has large market share would negate that.

              The point is, if Google wants to take on Skype, they need to make it quick and easy for people to use, and installing another client is a barrier.

              • by yarnosh (2055818)

                And what about voice conferencing and video?

                Skype? Gotomeeting? There are various services for conference calls. Goto meeting does use a Java client, but it is webstart or whatever. It downloads a client, but it is not really "intalled" on my computer.

                I do a lot of conference calls through Skype actually, but almost always with people I already know and already have Skype accounts. Rarely am I going to do a conference call with random, new people. Skype is very convenient for this because we're already using it for everything else, IM, screensharin

    • by jo42 (227475)

      The Browser (is now) The OS. Long Live The (retarded new) OS!

    • Re:Why in Chrome? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @04:16PM (#36518876) Homepage

      I just can't wait for the cloud bubble to burst so we can go back to having traditional software again.

      I just can't wait for the web bubble to burst so we can go back to having traditional software again.

      The world has never really been the same since we developed this "everything is a web page" model. In a lot of ways, I don't find web-pages to actually be a good replacement for a traditional applications; the interface usability has greatly suffered.

      (Yes, there are still some things which don't run as web pages ... who knows, maybe we'll get good old-fashioned native clients pulling in data from the cloud, and there will be unicorns and bunnies and all will be good.)

      • by darrylo (97569)

        I just can't wait for the cloud bubble to burst so we can go back to having traditional software again.

        I don't think it's likely to burst -- cloud-based data is just too useful (assuming, of course, that you have an internet connection and sufficient bandwidth, which can be pretty big assumptions). John Gruber, of all people, makes some pretty good points on the upcoming client-in-a-web-browser (Google) and client-as-a-native-app (Apple) wars: http://daringfireball.net/2011/06/its_all_software [daringfireball.net]

        • Universally accessible data is the only part of the cloud mess that I like. Assuming you can find somewhere trustworthy to hold your data for you, it's a nice supplement to the computing experience.
          Should it be the only way to use the computer experience? Absolutely not. It should be an add-on, if for no other reasons than security and cost-effectiveness. And I'll keep my apps running natively, thank you very much. Sooner or later we'll realise that not everything needs to be cloud-enabled.
          • Don't worry ... we went from mainframes (first computers) to PC's ... to mainframes ... to PC's ... to mainframes ("cloud computing").

            You might want to get a job at a bank, they're funny because they still haven't fully migrated away from the former version of the mainframes and COBOL. Then they link it to PC's using all sorts of weird protocols (like screen scraping a terminal emulator to translate to xml ... oh the horror). And now of course, on top of that xml they're implementing web2.0 interfaces and w

        • I don't think it's likely to burst -- cloud-based data is just too useful (assuming, of course, that you have an internet connection and sufficient bandwidth, which can be pretty big assumptions). John Gruber, of all people, makes some pretty good points on the upcoming client-in-a-web-browser (Google) and client-as-a-native-app (Apple) wars

          Which are pretty much po-TAY-to vs. po-TAH-to wars.

          There are plenty of tools being built to allow HTML/Javascript "native" apps, and Chrome includes NaCl (and soon, PNaC

      • Web developers are cheap. Go out and advertise C++ development for $50/hour and you'll soon see a lot more native apps getting built.

      • by yarnosh (2055818)

        I just can't wait for the web bubble to burst so we can go back to having traditional software again.

        We never stopped using traditional software. At least those of us on platforms with good traditional software that integrates well with the system.

        The world has never really been the same since we developed this "everything is a web page" model.

        We never did. THere's just a lot of people who don't understand the concept of "careful what you wish for." People who don't really understand how powerful traditional software and how most web apps would set us back 15 years in terms of usability. Yay! Wuldn't it be great if we could edit photos with a web app. Sure... if you want software with the performance

      • by m50d (797211)
        The reason is that a web page is the most effective way to make a cross-platform UI. It's hilarious and tragic, but true, and so pragmatic developers follow along with it, rolling our eyes and letting faster processors handle the overhead.
    • by Timmmm (636430)

      I can see this being useful for specific websites though, e.g. on facebook you can talk to your facebook friends, on ebay you can ask sellers questions, on chatroulette you can show people your cock...

      But I agree it should be standalone too. Maybe it is...

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The cloud bubble is no more likely to burst then the hardrive bubble is likely to burst.

      The cloud is how things will be done, I suggest you get used to it.

      • Hey if you were a mainframe salesman you could use the same line :

        "Mainframes are how things *are* done, I suggest you get used to it"

        disclaimer : I might have worked at a bank

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        The cloud bubble is no more likely to burst then the hardrive bubble is likely to burst.

        The cloud is how things will be done, I suggest you get used to it.

        Well, in an earlier post I assumed you were older, but it appears you're using someone elses account for the lower UID ... however, you don't seem to know much about computing history.

        This is hardly the first cloud bubble, it will burst like all the others for all the same reasons. Then we'll do it the right way for a while, and some things will work properly by being a mix of both, then in 5-10 years, we'll be getting all clouding again, probably with a new name.

        This has all happened before and it will al

    • by yarnosh (2055818)

      I know Google has this whole web-based vision where everything is accessed through the browser, but I'd rather see this as a stand-alone app

      First of all, it isn't an app. It is an API for building apps. Second, you can do this in a standalone app. ANd you can probably do it better. There are libraries for video, audio, and peer to peer communication.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Chrome OS. The more that gets moved to the browser, the more functional their new machine will be.

      Though I will say this: Traditional software was written to a particular processor. That got abstracted out to run on a processor family class. That was abstracted out further and further, behind BIOS calls, OS Kernels, dynamic linked libraries, etc. Time sensitive code doesn't need to be written in Assembly anymore, or even in a compiled language.

      One more layer of abstraction, if it makes coding easier (ye

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Time sensitive code doesn't need to be written in Assembly anymore, or even in a compiled language.

        Its always awesome when people who have never written a line of code in their lives tell others how to write code.

        Assembly is used all over the place. Using a webkit based browser on x86? You're using assembly. Use SSL in ANY browser, you know, like when you logged into slashdot. Guess what? Assembly for the encryption algorithms ... so its fast. I could go on for days with examples of things still written in assembly because they need to be fast.

        I'm going to assume you use Linux, I suggest you take a

    • I know Google has this whole web-based vision where everything is accessed through the browser, but I'd rather see this as a stand-alone app.

      Its not an app at all, its a set of Web APIs exposing existing infrastructure that has to be supported by the host OS for it to work at all.

      So, if you are developing for an OS that already supports this type of thing outside of the browser (most do, though the APIs may or may not be as nice), and you don't mind tying yourself to that OS, and you don't want to integrate

    • by hitmark (640295)

      I guess we may see a plugin for pidgin or similar soon enough.

    • by Alarash (746254)
      I'm with you here. I liked the fact that originally, Chrome was a very light, basic but efficient web browser. Now they keep adding stuff to it, and I'm afraid it might become too bloated. They should release that kind of stuff as "apps" (the new name for "plug ins" apparently).
  • Spy technology! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 21, 2011 @04:18PM (#36518896)

    With WebRTC, developers will be able to build voice and video applications using nothing more than HTML and JavaScript. This is a powerful technology which can ...

    ... implement some truly awesome spy technology. Implemented both by site owners and site hackers.

    • by moriya (195881)

      Yeah, I don't need sites I randomly visit to start recording the sound of me jacking off as I watch porn.

    • Now if they could only add a feature to increase the size of your tin foil hat.
    • by swillden (191260)

      With WebRTC, developers will be able to build voice and video applications using nothing more than HTML and JavaScript. This is a powerful technology which can ...

      ... implement some truly awesome spy technology. Implemented both by site owners and site hackers.

      Right, I'm sure none of the browser vendors will ever think of implementing a user prompt before turning on the microphone and camera. Just like none of the mobile browsers ask the user before providing location information to web sites, and none of the browsers have any tools for removing or limiting the scope of cookies, or...

      Jeez, people. Paranoia is well and good, but you should at least come up with something that won't obviously be addressed right up front.

  • The 'BSD-like' license [google.com] Google chose is not right in my opinion. Companies like Microsoft could easily do an 'Embrace-->Extend-->Extinguish' game on the technology. What is wrong with LGPL ver. 3?

    • by Qubit (100461)

      The 'BSD-like' license [google.com] Google chose is not right in my opinion. Companies like Microsoft could easily do an 'Embrace-->Extend-->Extinguish' game on the technology.

      True, they *could*, although for the moment Microsoft is really jumping on the HTML5/standards wagon like crazy. Note:
      - The IE team is cranking through support for various HTML5 features, CSS, etc...
      - Windows 8 is apparently going to strongly support HTML5-based apps
      - Microsoft seemed okay with supporting WebM in IE as long as it was installed as a separate codec on the system (no promise yet of baking it in)

      Also note that according to Wikipedia, marketshare for browsers in May 2011 is something like this:

    • The 'BSD-like' license [google.com] Google chose is not right in my opinion. Companies like Microsoft could easily do an 'Embrace-->Extend-->Extinguish' game on the technology.

      EEE doesn't work on BSD-licensed (or public domain) software as long as as there is an active developer community around the open source version (and especially not if there is at least one big corporate user that sponsors the open source version to get people to work for them for free), it only works if there is little concern

  • Like many I embraced Chrome because it seemed that Firefox had become big, bloated, and cumbersome. Chrome seemed to resist the urge to stuff extra doo-dads into the browser, and I like that. (that's the beauty of plug-ins - you can add junk by choice, not because someone decided to add it for you)

    The crazy thing is that I spend probably 60% of my time working in browser space, but I rely on the sites and services I use to deliver what I need, not the browser itself.

    You wouldn't build Gmail into the
    • by Teckla (630646)

      Google won't add basic features like proxy settings that aren't shared with the operating system, and a master password for your saved passwords, but they keep packing these kinds of features in.

      I really don't understand why they're making the kinds of decisions they're making. It seems so random, like they stuff in whatever shiny they like, and then come up with weak justifications for skipping the rest.

      • Google won't add basic features like proxy settings that aren't shared with the operating system

        Chrome does support this via an extension API (chrome.proxy).

        and a master password for your saved passwords,

        A while back, Google added integration with kwallet and gnome keyring, which, does this without requiring a separate master password for the browser; OTOH, simply using saved passwords and having appropriate security on your OS user account would seem to be an adequate approach for dealing with this concer

        • by Teckla (630646)

          Chrome does support this via an extension API (chrome.proxy).

          I don't see any extensions that use the proxy API so that you can keep proxy settings separate from the OS. Can you recommend one? Or hasn't one been created (yet)?

          A while back, Google added integration with kwallet and gnome keyring, which, does this without requiring a separate master password for the browser; OTOH, simply using saved passwords and having appropriate security on your OS user account would seem to be an adequate approach for dealing with this concern.

          I use KeePass myself, and don't really want my browser keeping passwords for me; however, I know people that do. For non-technical users, downloading and installing yet another application to keep passwords for them -- passwords they'll only use on web sites while in their web browser -- can be a non-trivial challenge and annoyance. Also, I'm not

          • I don't see any extensions that use the proxy API so that you can keep proxy settings separate from the OS. Can you recommend one?

            I can't recommend one since I have no use for one, but it seems like that sample extension for the proxy api allows that.

            I use KeePass myself, and don't really want my browser keeping passwords for me; however, I know people that do. For non-technical users, downloading and installing yet another application to keep passwords for them -- passwords they'll only use on web sites wh

    • Like many I embraced Chrome because it seemed that Firefox had become big, bloated, and cumbersome. Chrome seemed to resist the urge to stuff extra doo-dads into the browser, and I like that.

      This impression of yours has been misguided from the start. Chrome has been, almost from the beginning, all about adding extra doodads to support rich internet applications based in the browser. It's true that compared to contemporary versions of Firefox, Chrome had less doodads, but that's because Chrome was focussing

    • They aren't building in the phone, they are building in a way for others to build a phone. The phone I build could be very different from the phone you build. Google may build a reference phone in their labs or implement it in gchat. That does not mean that the browser is a phone only that it can be one when desired.

      It could also be a music studio, a translator's tool, a telegraph, a sensor monitor, an alert system, a door answer service, etc.

  • RTC has stood for "Real-Time Clock" for how many years and now suddenly it's being redefined? Where are all those who defended the use of KB/MB/GB and ridiculed those who use KiB/MiB/GiB?

  • When will Opera & Pidgin have this?
  • How does this challenge Skype? Someone still has to write the damn software, you know. It isn't like you couldn't write a "skype killer" before this.
    • by F34nor (321515)

      The only challenge to Skype is me shorting M$ stock for wasting a couple billion on a money loosing and totally generic software company. Balmer you stupid fucking moron. There is nothing about Skype anymore but momentum. The Gizmo5 --> Google Voice is so much more usefully, flexible and interesting.

  • TFA provides nothing useful over the site itself [webrtc.org], other than a bunch of hover-over-this-text ads.

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