Google seems to be implementing Skype-like technologies into Chrome, if a recent build of Chromium is any indication. For starters, the inclusion of this technology will allow video and audio chats though Google Talk without the need for a proprietary plugin. But what could this mean for the rest of the industry?
This latest move builds on the efforts of Global IP Solutions (or GIPS, for short), a company Google acquired last year. Over a year later, Google created WebRTC, an open source project that allows developers to integrate VoIP technologies into their sites. According to a blog post, WebRTC support has been built into the latest nightly build of Chromium, the open-source project Chrome is then based off:
As a first significant step toward integrating the WebRTC project into Chrome the WebRTC code is now about to land in Chromium as third party software at src/third_party/webrtc. This means that the crucial media processing capabilities necessary to implement real-time communication are available as a part of Chromium.
This technology’s benefits extend far beyond Google Talk, however. Since Google has promised to keep this technology royalty-free and fully open source, the company hopes that WebRTC will become a full-on web standard used by developers across all devices and platforms. Google is allegedly working with other browser makers to implement WebRTC as well, according to another blog post:
In this effort, we’ll be working closely with other browser developers such as Mozilla and Opera, to implement this technology for use by the broader web community. In addition, we’ve collectively engaged with the standards communities such as IETF and W3C working groups to define and implement a set of standards for real time communications.
Currently, the most obvious way for a developer to build a video chat feature into a website is though Flash. If WebRTC becomes a standard, a video chat will execute without any third-party add-on, which helps ensure stability. While Adobe shouldn’t be too pleased about this, a web standard would be fully in the interest of web users.
This is quite an ambitious move, but Google has succeeded at these moves in the past. Back in 2008, the company first released Chrome into the wild, without any previous experience developing browsers. Fast-forward to today, Chrome is arguably the gold standard of web browsers, at least among enthusiasts.
You can download the latest (at the time of this writing) pre-compiled version of Chromium from here.