When Firefox debuted a video chat feature called Hello in October, it was nothing special–just a competitor to the likes of Skype. But now it’s something worth saying hello to: With the new release of Firefox 35, Hello now functions without plugins or logins, even on other operating systems. All a user has to do is send a link to another user; click it, and the video chat begins.
But it isn’t just a nice video chat system. It is a signal of more good things to come–products that just work, and don’t need to be set up, thanks to a new back-end system that is being used in multiple browsers.
Hello functions because of something called WebRTC. It stands for Web Real-Time Communication, and is a standard that enables browsers to communicate with each other without plugins. The new video chat is the logical, liberated extreme of the original dream that spawned WebRTC, which Google began in 2011 after acquiring Global IP Solutions and releasing its VOIP tech as open source. That dream: integrate WebRTC into the code guts of the browsers themselves so you don’t need to coordinate plugins or match extensions between browsers, which would require complicated updating and/or licensing headaches. Ugh!
WebRTC debuted in Firefox’s beta back in December, and is now part of its main browser. Currently only Chrome, Firefox, and Opera (along with Android and iOS mobile operating systems and a few smaller browsers) support WebRTC, so you can’t Hello-chat your friends who use Safari or Internet Explorer.
[via Engadget ]