WebRTC on Mobile is Still Science Fiction

March 14, 2014

How much noise can an Opera singer make?

I am usually saying that WebRTC on mobile is a done deal today. There are 3 ways to tackle it:

  1. Ignore it – don’t do mobile
  2. Use it when it is available in the browser (that’s Firefox, Chrome and Opera – and only on Android)
  3. Port WebRTC on your own, or have someone else port it for you, and then wrap it with an app

This haven’t changed a lot in the past year. There might be a bit more browsers supporting it, and it gets easier to port with each update of WebRTC’s “official” source code; but other than that there’s nothing new.

And then Opera comes out with their GA for their mobile Android browser and the internet goes berserk. I am collecting data off social networks for many months now – looking at trends and seeing what people talk about when it comes to WebRTC. Last week it was only Opera.

OperaWas it this Opera?

Kudos for the catch there for them, but I must say – I can’t understand why on earth does it even matter?

  • We already have Firefox and Chrome for Android supporting WebRTC
  • Chrome is way more popular on Android than Opera
  • Opera is like… the fifth browser (after IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari). Who cares about it? And who has it installed and in use?
  • Opera announced their beta version with WebRTC for Android just last month, so this was the obvious next step – we’ve seen it before with both Chrome and Firefox for Android
  • When it was Firefox’s and Chrome’s turn to go Android and GA – they didn’t catch as much popularity as I can tell

Go figure.

What it means to me is that people still don’t get how WebRTC fits in mobile – so much so that they take this marginally newsworthy item and shout it out everywhere – instead of understanding that this doesn’t change a thing for anyone.

Going mobile with WebRTC? You either need to accept the low reachability you will have, or port it and build an app for it. Both options are valid and it really just depends on your use case.

When will this change?

  1. When Apple finally adds WebRTC support to iOS (I don’t really care about OS X here – we have Chrome for that)
  2. When Google finally gets WebRTC into Android’s WebView AND gets that version of Android into enough consumer hands

Neither is likely to happen in 2014.

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  1. Good reality check on mobile. So as an alternative, and to enable our enterprise and app developer customers with multi-platform immediately.. OpenClove has a “WebRTC Browser” on both iOS and Android.. its called LiveBoard Lite (download from http://liveboard.me).

    Any developer using our JavaScript based Engage Conversations Player for live communications on their web app, will automatically work on mobile and tablets using LiveBoard.. Code-Once-Works-Across-Devices.

    Just some food for thought for some of the developers out there… till WebRTC becomes universal.

    1. Crosswalk is interesting, but I don’t see it assisting Android in any way – more like what will be packaged into Tizen.

      Android is Google’s turf, and they are working on WebRTC inside webview. Once they get it out the door, it will be hard to displace it on Android. Fragmentation will still be an issue in reaching to the older userbase.

  2. We do have working WebRTC libraries for iOS and Android and there may be others out there. You might add a fourth way to tackle WebRTC on mobile:

    4. Get a WebRTC native library for iOS or Android and build native your native app around it.

    And 3 is very hard still probably better to buy versus build.

    1. For me 3 and 4 are one and the same. They simply mean you need to have WebRTC ported natively with an app on top of it.

      Doing it on your own, outsourcing it, buying it ready-made or using a fully fledged WebRTC API Platform has the same functional result with the same user experience – the differences between them are tactical ones.

  3. Is it a quick and easy process to make a mobile website based on WebRTC from a desktop website based on WebRTC? Is an API required for the mobile website?

    Is it a quick and easy process to make an iOS app from a mobile website that is based on WebRTC? Is an API required for the iOS app?

    Thanks for all your help!

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