One question we hear often from businesses that want to use our Web Phone is this: Does my browser support WebRTC?
Our Web Phone uses the Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) programming interface to let you make calls from your web browser. WebRTC makes it easy for our developers to create a phone that can run on nearly any device. It also makes using our Dash Phone System convenient for many people because they can complete calls without having to purchase a desk phone.
Not all browsers, however, understand the code the WebRTC provides to make these calls possible. Today’s blog will give you a brief rundown about what WebRTC is and which browsers support it and the projects that use it.
What is WebRTC?
WebRTC allows web developers to create applications that can make audio and video calls inside a web browser. The ultimate goal of the project is to let individuals communicate with one another in real time – meaning there is no noticeable lag between the sending and receiving of messages.
The WebRTC project that many people know about is managed by Google. Although there have been other projects that carry a similar name, such as OpenWebRTC, the one you’ll likely find supported in your browser, and the one VirtualPBX relies on, is Google’s implementation.
All RTC projects of this type provide web developers with application programming interfaces (APIs) that make it easy for them to capture and transmit information between browsers. Instead of needing to code from scratch the use of a voice engine, video engine, and data transport framework, developers simply refer to interfaces like getUserMedia or RTCPeerConnection that accept parameters to achieve those same goals.
As a rough example: Developers tell getUserMedia to ask for the names and addresses of two users’ cameras and microphones. When getUserMedia is given permission by both users, RTCPeerConnection uses those names and addresses, among other information, to start an audio chat between the two peers.
Developers essentially plug information into a system that’s already build to handle voice and video. Both getUserMedia and RTCPeerConnection are APIs inside the WebRTC project. Both those interfaces refer to a lot of existing background code that makes communication possible. In short, WebRTC eases the burden on developers and creates an interoperable standard for users so each group can expect popular web browsers to interface with one another.
Does Your Browser Support WebRTC?
While the WebRTC project is widespread, it only has support with browsers that know how to process the interfaces like getUserMedia and RTCPeerConnection. If a browser doesn’t know what the special phrase getUserMedia means, it won’t know how to complete a WebRTC request.
Luckily, several popular web browsers work with Google to help keep the WebRTC standard alive. If you use an updated version of any of the following browsers, you should be able to run an application like our Web Phone that requires WebRTC:
- Android and iOS versions of the browsers listed above
Partial support (or non-native support created through browser plugins) exists in:
Asking How It Works
There is some variability in how each of these browsers and how specific applications can handle WebRTC. Therefore, it can be pertinent not just to ask, “Does my browser support WebRTC?” but also to ask, “How does my browser support WebRTC?”
What you’ll find if you look in the code is that applications may, for instance, request a specific video codec. WebRTC supports the VP8 and VP9 codecs by default. However, at the time this article was published, the stable Safari release (Version 12.1) did not support VP9.
This isn’t necessarily a problem; it only requires a work-around. If an application running on Chrome asks the same application on Safari to use VP9, it would not be able. However, each browser could default to VP8 so they can speak to one another in that instance. In further connections with other browsers, the same Chrome browser application might have the chance to use VP9 if it’s supported on both ends.
What this means for users isn’t usually pertinent to how they conduct daily business. That said, it does demonstrate the power of WebRTC and the options available to make audio and video connections interoperable between browsers.
Try WebRTC Today
You may have used WebRTC before if you ever had a conversation on Google Meet. If you’re one of our customers and have used our Web Phone, you’ve also experienced and audio chat through your browser.
Hopefully this article has provided you with some insight about how audio and video chat works within your browser. The topic can be complex, but the end-user result is typically friendly.
We try to make use of our phone system as user-friendly as possible. Curious about how it works? You can give our Web Phone and complete Dash Phone System a look today in a Free Demo led by an experienced Sales Team member.