Update 6/7: Today Apple released a formal announcement
A couple of days ago at WWDC, Apple confirmed something that those of us in the WebRTC developer community have speculated about for over a year - that WebRTC will be incorporated into the newest version of Safari (Safari 11) which will be released this September along with iOS 11.
This is HUGE news for the computing industry.
Since its introduction in 2011, WebRTC has become an incredibly important part of everyone’s favorite platforms and applications. It is at the core of a few services that you might have heard of, including Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Slack.
WebRTC is also supported natively by most major web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Opera. But there were 2 big holdouts - Microsoft’s Edge browser and Apple’s Safari. This meant that people using those browsers couldn’t access WebRTC-based services without installing some type of plug-in.
Well, those days are over given the WWDC news and Microsoft’s announcement back in January regarding WebRTC support in Edge. Developers can now create compelling browser-based applications that incorporate real-time audio and video (and maybe even a peer-to-peer component) and know that 99% of the world’s Web surfers will be able to use their services without having to install any plug-ins or additional software. This newfound ubiquity for WebRTC might even make a developer question whether he has to build a native iOS or Android app to deliver his service to end-users. Imagine that!
The WWDC announcement paves the way for WebRTC to grow from being just another protocol into a fully functioning standard for software developers. The fact that both Apple and Microsoft have adopted this standard (which was originally created by their mortal enemy Google) into their core web browsers speaks volumes for how important WebRTC has become as well as its future potential. Paraphrasing J.R.R. Tolkien a bit, there is no doubt now that WebRTC is the “one protocol to rule them all”.
And that’s a great thing. The development community has incredibly high hopes for WebRTC for all sorts of applications. With Flash dying, companies like Wowza and Flussonic are using WebRTC as replacement for RTMP, which was used extensively for low latency video streaming. Our company, Peer5, has created a peer-to-peer CDN using WebRTC, as it enables, for the first time, peer-to-peer connections to be made directly in the browser without plugins. For us, the WWDC news means that our service will soon be available on every Windows, Android and iOS device in the world - without us having to write one line of platform-specific code. How incredible is that?
And, as previously mentioned, numerous other big companies have WebRTC in their tech stacks, with more developers looking into more use cases than ever before. Now that WebRTC is supported natively by Safari, all of this functionality will be seamlessly available to Safari users.
So get ready for the future of the Web and the WebRTC standard. We’ve only started to explore all of the ways that this will impact and improve the Internet. So far, the results are incredibly promising!
P.S. - As is their customary practice, Apple will pre-release WebRTC and other features to the technical community in a beta test period so that they can receive valuable feedback prior the full release. Apple provides this mechanism through a special browser edition called Safari Technology Preview, so check that out for a first glimpse of WebRTC in Safari.
Peer5 operates a WebRTC-based peer-to-peer content delivery network (CDN) for massively-scaled video streaming. Peer5 turns the peak demand issue into an advantage - the more users that watch, the more effective the streaming becomes for everybody. By increasing our customers’ streaming capacity by a factor of up to 100x, Peer5 ensures perfect video playback with no buffering for millions of viewers every day.