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Apple is rolling WebRTC video-chat into Safari iOS, OS X browsers

WebKit could soon get support for open conferencing standard

Apple is adding support for WebRTC videoconferencing to WebKit, the engine at the heart of Safari. This will allow the web browser to handle websites and apps that offer WebRTC's encrypted video-nattering.

The Cupertino maker of iThings has updated its WebKit website to add WebRTC to its list of open specifications as "in development." No timeline has been given for when the support would be introduced in the iOS and OS X versions of Safari.

Reports emerged last Fall that Apple was looking to hire WebRTC developers, foreshadowing moves to adopt the open video and voice chat standard for web browsers.

Originally put forward by Google in 2011, the WebRTC API allows browser-based applications to make real-time voice or video calls as well as peer-to-peer data connections. WebRTC uses encryption and high quality video and audio encoding, adapts well to network conditions, and plays nice with other video and audio chat systems.

The move should pave the way for the introduction of WebRTC video-chatting in Safari, a standard already supported by Firefox, Chrome, and more recently, Microsoft Edge. Backers, including Lantre Barr of developer Blacc Spot Media, are pointing to the change as an encouraging sign for the open standard, as Apple was widely seen as one of the last remaining big names holding out from WebRTC.

"With Microsoft's recent commitment to support WebRTC in the Edge browser, Apple became the remaining laggard," Barr wrote.

"And without Apple's commitment, doubt and fear were common among companies and organizations looking to incorporate WebRTC in their products and services."

Hopefully, before rolling WebRTC into Safari, Apple will look to address the security bugs that have caused some WebRTC apps to expose the IP addresses of users. ®

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