Chrome Android WebRTC

Chrome for Android was updated yesterday, bringing one very important feature to the forefront. While the desktop version of Chrome received Omnibox improvements and a quick reset for the settings, Chrome for Android (stable, not beta) will now get WebRTC support.

If you’re unfamiliar with WebRTC, it’s an open source tool which was launched by Google in early 2011. The “RTC” stands for Real Time Communication, and can be tested here. In a nutshell, it brings video conferencing to the browser without the need for a plug-in.

The update also brings some scrolling and startup improvements, but WebRTC is the real star of the show. Once you allow a website to use the camera and microphone on your device, the fun can begin. While the immediate reaction is teleconferencing, this has a slew of possibilities once developers implement it.

The most glaring question right now is whether WebRTC will work with Hangouts, specifically Helpouts. The service, which is real but not live, relies on Hangouts for its chat backbone. Not everyone uses Hangouts, or wants to install it, so perhaps WebRTC could prove useful for such a service, down the line. Chrome is a much more useful platform for true cross-platform/OS ignorant communication, so it will be interesting to see where this development takes us.