Today, for the umpteenth time, I was asked to install a company’s browser plugin. The world of plugins seems to be never ending. To me, there are at least two types of add-ons: one that someone else wants me to install in order to use a service I’d like, and the other, one that I completely ignore. Personally, I’ll download the first type of plugin more or less happily because even though its a nuisance, at the end of the day, I get what I want. The second type just plain gets on my nerves.
Browser plugins are inherently annoying. Looking at the world of startups today, so many of them are designed to make processes that already exist easier. Technology makes life more efficient and gets us all to whatever we want faster. Plugins are nothing more than a bridge that we, the end-users, have to decide whether or not to cross, potentially losing the plugin’s builder customers.
Other than the download itself, using plugins creates potential problems. Plugins often have bugs and other security issues since they’re really just more software. This means that when I install an add-on, I know I have one more piece of technology that is likely to crash on me sometimes. When the plugin does crash, it can take other things with it. For example, if I’m using one and it stops working, the entire browser can freeze and close itself unexpectedly.
Among other technologies, WebRTC has been hugely helpful in the fight against plugins. It’s ability to connect user’s computers in real-time without any sort of installation is nothing short of revolutionary. While WebRTC may not allow all companies with add-ons to remove them, some companies, like Peer5, are using it to move capabilities that once required some form of user installation into the browser, plugin free.
To learn more about WebRTC, click here