The Beginners Guide to Understanding WebRTC in 3 Minutes

By Carl Blume on September 17, 2018
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 Web Real-time Communications (WebRTC) enables peer-to-peer, real-time communication in web browsers and mobile applications through application programming interfaces. It is open-source and completely free to use. WebRTC comes with a JavaScript API layer to make it as easy as possible to integrate real-time communications.

WebRTC is used massively thanks to applications like Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Discord, and others. Though some don’t realize just how impactful WebRTC is, it has been used to improve many platforms and people across the globe use applications powered by WebRTC on a day-to-day basis.

Check out a WebRTC demo on Github.

More than Just Video and Audio Calls with WebRTC

With WebRTC, you can do more than just build a video or audio calling service. WebRTC is extremely versatile, and can be used for audio conferences, video conferences, or data delivery. WebRTC is built to fit your use case. Expanding beyond traditional audio and video calls, WebRTC can be used for recording and screen sharing.

Majority Web Browser Support for WebRTC

Support for WebRTC in different web browsers has been becoming more and more comprehensive, with Safari being the latest addition in mid 2017.

  1. Chrome
  2. Firefox
  3. Opera
  4. Safari
  5. Android

WebRTC Beyond the Web

Excitingly, WebRTC has already been used in a lot of mobile apps, including appear.in. To make things even simpler, companies like Jitsi and Frozen Mountain produce SDKs such as Jitsi Meet and IceLink, respectively, to add WebRTC audio, video and data streaming for browsers, mobile, and native platforms.

WebRTC has SDKs for mobile as well as embedded environments, which makes it possible to use WebRTC anywhere.

What Mobile Platforms Natively Support WebRTC?

The two main players in the mobile-space game natively support WebRTC.

  1. Android
  2. iOS

WebRTC History

WebRTC got started in early 2010, when Google acquired On2, a video codec company that developed the VP codec series, and Global IP Solutions, a media framework company. Shortly after, Ericsson Labs experimented with early ideas of WebRTC through the streams API. By May of 2011, Google had released an early version of WebRTC as an open-source project for browser-based, real-time communication. The history of WebRTC has been a rich one from there, from support in Firefox, to the plan war, to the announcement of WebRTC Version 1.0 as feature complete.

WebRTC Use Cases

WebRTC use cases cover the internet of things, peer-to-peer video calls, peer-to-peer messaging, content sharing, and onion-routed communication. We discussed all of these in our series on Use Cases of WebRTC. All of these and more are discussed in our latest white paper, The Future of WebRTC: Innovative Use Cases of Real-time Audio and Video Communications.

Want to learn even more about WebRTC? Check out our latest series on WebRTC Verticals.

Tags: WebRTC