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Firefox Chrome Communications Networking The Internet

Firefox and Chrome Can Talk To Each Other 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-nice-with-others dept.
The Firefox and Chrome teams have announced that their respective browsers can now communicate with each other via WebRTC for the purpose of audio and video communication without needing a third-party plugin. WebRTC is a new set of technologies that brings clear crisp voice, sharp high-definition (HD) video and low-delay communication to the web browser. From the very beginning, this joint WebRTC effort was embraced by the open web community, including engineers from the Chrome and Firefox teams. The common goal was to help developers offer rich, secure communications, integrated directly into their web applications. In order to succeed, a web-based communications platform needs to work across browsers. Thanks to the work and participation of the W3C and IETF communities in developing the platform, Chrome and Firefox can now communicate by using standard technologies such as the Opus and VP8 codecs for audio and video, DTLS-SRTP for encryption, and ICE for networking. To try this yourself, you’ll need desktop Chrome 25 Beta and Firefox Nightly for Desktop. In Firefox, you'll need to go to about:config and set the media.peerconnection.enabled pref to "true." Then head over to the WebRTC demo site and start calling."
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Firefox and Chrome Can Talk To Each Other

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  • Now if they can get Safari and Opera on board it'll be easier to drag Microsoft [slashdot.org] in kicking and screaming while they go their own way.
    • by silentcoder (1241496) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:16PM (#42788579) Homepage

      Why do I feel like getting safari on board would be even harder than Microsoft ? Remember, old Steve Jobs' determined fight to not use VP8 - which is the core codec for this ?

      • by dclozier (1002772)
        It's a stretch but perhaps now that he's gone some common sense might seep in?
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Isn't VP8 more processor-intensive than H.264? I would think it was pretty reasonable for Apple to be concerned about battery life.

        • its an inherent fear that someone somewhere might share something with someone else, somewhere else and not pay apple.
      • More to the point, VP8 doesn't make any sense here. All modern hardware comes with H.264 hardware decode capabilities, and it has for some time.

        For that matter, virtually every piece of new hardware comes with a real-time H.264 hardware encoder too, specifically designed for recording video and real-time teleconferencing.

        I like the open ideals of VP8, but just like WebM, this ship has long since sailed. Using VP8 means no one has hardware support for it at a time when the quality-equivalent H.264 codec can

    • Now if they can get Safari and Opera on board

      You mean this Opera, from a year ago?

      http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/getusermedia-access-camera-privacy-ui/ [opera.com]

      I'm not sure if the TFA demo would work in Opera if it didn't specifically sniff for Firefox and Chrome, but be as it may, incomplete or not, getUserMedia() was part of Opera Stable already a year ago. Someone else with more insight into WebRTC will have to say why Opera doesn't work here.

      • The problem is that Opera does implement getUserMedia, but not peerConnection. They can do the part of RTC that accesses cameras and microphones, but not the part that sends it over the network.

        • The problem is that Opera does implement getUserMedia, but not peerConnection. They can do the part of RTC that accesses cameras and microphones, but not the part that sends it over the network.

          A-ha! That explains it. Hopefully someone will mod you up.

          Still, "getting Opera on board" should be no big deal. They pretty much started the whole thing.

      • by jonadab (583620)
        Honestly, whether Opera works with it or not will only matter to Opera users.

        There are some things I like about Opera, and I personally use it for several things (though Slashdot is not one of those things), but realistically its market share is not enough to be compelling when it comes to deciding whether a given new web technology works in enough browsers to be worth adopting. If it works with the big four (Firefox, Chrome, IE, and Mobile Safari -- and Mobile Safari only joined this list within the last
        • Opera's market share is stable, but it's measured in tenths of a percent.

          It's over 1% worldwide, and it's still a major player in the former USSR. It's losing to Chrome, though, while Firefox pretty much remains constant.

          Mobile Safari appears to be the only _mobile_ browser with a market share worth talking about so far

          There's well over 200 million Opera Mini/Mobile users, and the number doesn't seem to be decreasing...

    • by Fjandr (66656)

      I'm sure Opera support will be along shortly, since they're one of the three partners (along with Google and Mozilla) supporting the WebRTC initiative.

      From the http://webrtc.org/ [webrtc.org] front page:
      "The WebRTC initiative is a project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera. This page is maintained by the Google Chrome team."

  • this means there is no need of skype.
    • Re:no need of skype (Score:5, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:23PM (#42788649)

      Other than finding each other to start the conversation, I agree. The one thing Skype still has going for it is the directory services.

      More to the point it will open up the ability to write skype-like apps for many website, forums, etc.

      The security and privacy aspect that skype used to provide has been eroded since Microsoft took ownership, and started routing all calls through their own servers, and refusing to answer questions about monitoring. (One half suspects that Microsoft's ownership was government funded).

      • by Lennie (16154)

        I'm sure Facebook is eager to solve that problem.

      • by caspy7 (117545)

        Could any XMPP client implemented in the browser pull this off?
        I don't know, but if so, that would cover all of Google's chat network.

        • by icebike (68054)

          Some XMPP clients are starting to add video, but for some reason, the world is rushing towards the browser for everything.
          I think its because a generation has grown up knowing nothing but web development tools, and have no technical skills outside of that area. It was easy to get into simple web page development, and progress step by step to greater and greater levels of complexity, using additional technologies to server pages in ever more complex ways, asp java, ruby, xml, php, etc.

          Don't get me wrong, th

  • Question: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Blue Stone (582566) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:23PM (#42788657) Homepage Journal

    So will webRTC kill Skype?

    (please say yes, please say yes...)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, for all non-Microsoft non-Apple users.

  • Is Chrome 64-bit yet? At least in the beta version??

  • by DaveV1.0 (203135)
    If only this could be done without using a browswer. Oh, wait....
    • by Khyber (864651)

      We've got it - it's called Camfrog, and it kicks the shit out of anything these web-standards idiots could ever think of.

    • by Lennie (16154)

      You are trying to be ironic, but actually, you can. WebRTC isn't Web-only.

      There are (or will be, I keep forgetting) libraries which will allow you to use an API to do the same things you can do from within the browser. So it will be easy for people to build video- and audio-chat into desktop applications and mobile apps.

  • by futhermocker (2667575) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:39PM (#42788839)

    Just as a car is for driving. You could try and make a car fly as well, but it will fly only for a few seconds before gravity kicks in.

    Same goes for software. Years of experience learned me to prevent this kind of 'additional functionality', also called "function creep". Next to that, I can think up tons of vulnerabilities, such as implanting 'bugs' on pages, analog to a hidden electret mic, or pre recorded spam calls.

    Note that I really support this type of innovation, but please, not in browsers.

    • no, this is re-implenting technologies natively that where previously used with the flash sub-platform.

      Instead of shitty, subversive, closed binaries, its just an open standard with two projects writing two compatible codebases.(redundancy means less failure), both of which are open.

      this is a solution for horribly implemented technology at current.
      • You are right about the previous buggy implementations such as Flash, but the point I tried to make is, why incorporate this into a browser. It only calls for more bloat and more vulnerabilities. Of course this stuff is really handy to call a hot lady through a webpage without leaving a trace in your favorite messenger, but not seriously an option I would consider, mostly because I do not like to intermix applications, as stated earlier.
    • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Monday February 04, 2013 @05:39PM (#42789625)
      The reason this stuff is happening in browsers and the web is because that's where the companies who care about and support inter-operability are at. It's unfortunate that we need the browser as an additional software layer (and a big one at that) for making truly platform independent and accessible software, but it's just the state of things right now.
      • by adolf (21054)

        The reason this stuff is happening in browsers and the web is because that's where the companies who care about and support inter-operability are at.

        That's what Netscape thought when they released Communicator, and we all know how well that went.

      • The reason this stuff is happening in browsers and the web is because that's where the companies who care about and support inter-operability are at.

        Interoperability is only part of it.....the temptation of hooking your customer in a SAAS subscription is huge.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:42PM (#42788879) Homepage

    I've been working on a SIP router and using Linphone and Jitsi for testing. I've been working on getting ZRTP (key exchange/validation method for end-to-end encryption using SRTP) working through FreeSWITCH. I haven't gotten the config incantation right yet, but I think I'm close. Seeing this article led me to poke around in WebRTC a bit to see if I should be testing it as well.

    I found some info about WebRTC using SDES-SRTP, and maybe that DTLS-SRTP is the new direction, but I haven't figured out how they handle key exchange, or even if they are intended for end-to-end without a trusted MiTM. Does anyone know offhand if WebRTC supports end-to-end? How is key exchange/verification handled with new peers?

    Thanks for info or links.

  • HTML5 is supposed to be a standard, no? Interoperbility is long overdue. That should have been done in the first place.

    • WebRTC is not "HTML5". It's an ECMAScript API, and you can use it in any ECMAScript environment with the API, including any HTML version, and hopefully, in the future, desktop applications.

      • yeah an just an API so ... imagine a socket API that does not allow you to connect to a server because the underlying protocols are not yet compatible. THAT would be useful.

        Don't get me wrong: webrtc is a good thing (well would be better if they chose H.264 for interoperating with the rest of the world) but networking and protocols are now getting over 30 years old and its time that when an standard API is proposed, the interop work is done before so application developpers can really thrive doing their bus

        • by Lennie (16154)

          The IETF working group has not yet choosen the video-codec. VP8 is just what Firefox and Chrome are using to talk to each other. Even if VP8 is mandatory and H.264 was not. That does not mean that both parties talking to each other can't negotiate H.264 when they both support and prefer it.

  • Cue the first Zero-day vulnerability in 3...2...
  • Talk to each other? They virtually are each other!

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