The latest version of the Opera for Android browser includes support for the WebRTC protocol, meaning web apps running in the browser can offer video chat capabilities without the need for a plugin or a separate app.
Opera has provided WebRTC in its desktop version since November last year, but this (Opera 20) is the first time it’s introduced it to its Android version. Chrome and Firefox already support the protocol both on desktop and in their Android iterations.
Opera is touting services such as appear.in as good examples of how WebRTC can get people chatting within the browser. “The web is the ultimate meeting place for all forms of communication, so why not build video communication capabilities right into the mobile browser?” asked Opera mobile products chief Peter Wallman in a statement on Thursday.
Indeed, WebRTC is one of those technologies that may give the good old browser a much-needed boost, as the web struggles to fend off walled gardens like Facebook and native apps themselves. Not only can it be used for audio and video chat, but it can also enable file transfers and even underpin content delivery networks.
Other native-app-style functions are also part of HTML web technology these days, allowing browsers – and therefore web apps – to tap into a mobile device’s accelerometers and other sensors.