Chrome 29 Brings WebRTC to Android
One of the major barriers cited to the growth of WebRTC has been the lack of true mobile integration into WebRTC. This has repeatedly been raised as the major potential barrier to adoption. In fact, the forecasts of a billion WebRTC devices by the end of 2013 include a large number of mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. While Ericsson showed their "Bowser" implementation, so far WebRTC has been limited to PCs and the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
This all changed with Google announcing the Beta release of Chrome 29 which will include support for WebRTC on Android devices. With Chrome release 29, Google is including WebRTC voice, video, and data channel services in all Android devices. While this is a move that has been anticipated, it is also great to see the industry move forward. I have been deciding whether to replace or upgrade my iPhone, having WebRTC and the plethora of new capabilities it opens on an Android device is probably a decision maker for me, and I assume for many others soon.
Beyond the WebRTC support, Chrome 29 has enhanced support for the Web Audio API, though only on smartphone/tablet ARM devices that support NEON optimization, designed to use certain instructions on ARM chips that was introduced in the ARM Cortex-A8 processor. It also includes some new features for packaged apps.
For those of us who are following WebRTC, the introduction of WebRTC in Android smartphones and tablets is now upon us. With this technology delivery, the real impact of WebRTC can begin to be felt, especially as 75 percent of the smartphones shipped in Q1 2013 were Android, a total of 156 million devices, per Gartner. Even without further growth over the year, that means over 600M Android devices, or with some growth, more like 700-800M million Android devices shipped this year. And they should all be WebRTC-ready by the end of the year. Blackberry has made noise about supporting WebRTC; the question is when will Apple and Microsoft get on the bandwagon?