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Chrome WebView On Android L Offers New Opportunities for WebRTC Developers

by Kevin Bartley

Chrome for Android L is a step in the right direction for developers who use HTML5 and WebRTC as integral parts of their applications.

Published: September 10, 2014

WebRTC has garnered cross-platform success because it is built into the core capabilities of popular internet browsers. So when Chrome and Firefox announced WebRTC compatibility for their Android browsers, we were certain that our WebRTC-based products such as InstaCall and the OnSIP app and our open source JavaScript SIP library, SIP.js, would work inside Android. With the upcoming release of Android L, the possibilities for real-time communications on the Android are only multiplying.

With the Android L, developers will get the opportunity to harness a device with a sleek new design and over 5,000 new APIs. The ART runtime, available in Android KitKat, operates with ARM, x86, and MIPS configurations, and runs twice as fast as Dalvik, the previous runtime iteration. With these new performance upgrades, Android L will give developers a chance to harness streaming video and voice with the operating system's bolstered capabilities.

"It's great to see WebRTC support in Chrome and Firefox on Android," said OnSIP Software Engineer Joseph Frazier. "It's exciting to know that it's coming to the default Chrome WebView in Android L, which makes it readily available to native and hybrid apps alike. It's possible to use WebRTC on iOS apps, but you basically have to compile it yourself. But Android has been giving users a chance to utilize WebRTC's unique abilities for quite some time now."

Chrome WebView on Android L will be based on Chromium 36 with WebGL and WebRTC automatically enabled. WebView allows developers to display and manipulate web content within an application. The new WebView implements significant changes from the prior version, offering new set of HTML5 feature support, improved JavaScript performance, and remote debugging of web content using the Chrome DevTools. Firefox has not released an Android L browser to the public, but it has supported WebRTC since Firefox 24 (released September 2013).

WebRTC logo

"The incorporation of WebRTC into Chrome WebView on Android will enable pure web applications to take advantage of WebRTC without including complex hybrid app components," said OnSIP Lead Developer Will Mitchell. "This is a huge step forward for HTML5 apps. Developers dreaming of 'Write Once, Run Everywhere' WebRTC apps can soon add Android to the 'Just Works' list."

Chrome for Android L is a step in the right direction for developers who use HTML5 and WebRTC as integral parts of their applications. In the broader picture, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera - the three WebRTC-enabled mobile browsers - easily surpass the market share of iOS Safari when taken together. And as I highlighted in a prior blog, industry commentators have speculated that WebRTC's widest potential adoption in future years will come from mobile devices. It seems that Android remains a platform that will be uniquely poised to harness this proliferation of WebRTC.

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