More automation is on tap for the Web as the WebRTC initiative would enable standards-based real-time communications in the browser, benefiting applications like e-commerce, phone and video calls, and peer-to-peer file-sharing. Theoretically, developers would no longer need third-party workarounds for these activities. But WebRTC continues to endure growing pains, with issues to be worked out to make it compatible with different browsers and systems.
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The technology has varying degrees of support among browsers: The Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera browsers today have limited support for WebRTC, and Microsoft and Apple have not disclosed their plans for plans for WebRTC in Internet Explorer and Safari, respectively, says Cisco Fellow Cullen Jennings. (Microsoft has submitted its own counterproposal, Customizable, Ubiquitous Real-Time Communication over the Web, or CU-RTC-Web, to the W3C WebRTC working group.)
Enabling WebRTC for mobile devices also will require some work. "Mobile's important," Jennings says.
Questions also remain about which video codec to use. Right now, H.264 and VP8 are the leading candidates, Jennings says. "It's very unclear about what will happen with all of that," he says, stating a preference for a royalty-free codec.
Still, WebRTC is winning some fans. "As a software developer, I think it's the logical next step in Web development," says Bogdan Ciuca, a software engineer at telecommunications vendor Broadsoft. "Everything's moving toward real-time communications."
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