WebRTC (Web Real Time Communications) is gaining notoriety as the next generation of audio and video conferencing products hit the market – but many still people aren’t too clear on what it is and how it applies to them. Here at FreeConference, we’re building some really exciting new products using WebRTC and, while we can’t wait to share them with you, we thought this was the perfect time to give you some insight into what WebRTC is and how it works.

So, without further adieu –

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC is an HTML-5 based, open source project for browser-based real-time communications – which means that it enables communication directly between browsers without plug-ins, making file sharing and audio and video communication much, much simpler for users.

Many of the products using WebRTC so far, like FreeConference Connect, focus on audio and video conferencing – particularly for groups. The peer-to-peer nature of WebRTC makes for a much stronger, higher definition connection than traditional VoIP calls. Some innovators, though, are using WebRTC for file sharing – removing the need to upload the file to a server; instead, users download the file directly from the person on the other end, speeding up the process considerably.

What are the benefits of WebRTC?

No downloads — At the moment WebRTC is supported in Chrome, Firefox and Opera on all desktop operating systems and most Android devices, meaning you can make a call or send a file using any WebRTC-based service from your computer, laptop, android tablet or phone without downloading any additional programs. If you use a browser that hasn’t yet built-in WebRTC capabilities, like Safari or Internet Explorer, there are plug-ins available that enable WebRTC for you.

Cross-platform — Since WebRTC is HTML-5 based it can run in almost any browser, on almost any platform, without difficulty – as long as the teams behind your browser and OS are on board. Since WebRTC is still fairly new, not all browsers support it and it is not available on iOS – yet – but we would be willing to bet that it won’t be long before it is.

Better connection — The direct browser-to-browser connection is much stronger than traditional VoIP connections, which means HD quality audio and video conferencing, faster file transfers and fewer dropped calls.

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How you can use WebRTC?

So this whole WebRTC thing sounds pretty neat, right? Even better, you can try it, for free, right now by visiting www.freeconference.co.uk. For the moment WebRTC is only supported by Chrome, Firefox and Opera (on both desktop and Android), but there are plug-ins available for Safari and Internet Explorer. While we have no idea what goes on at Microsoft and Apple, we’re hopeful that we’ll see this technology available across all platforms soon.