Google adding Skype-like abilities to Chrome, other browsers

By on June 22, 2011, 9:30 AM

Google plans to add real-time communication features into the popular Chrome web browser, according to an announcement on Google's Chromium-dev group.

The technology will be powered by its own WebRTC open-source project, which originated from Google's 2010 acquisition of Global IP Solutions (GIPS), and would allow for voice and video calling without the need for a plug-in or an external third-party application like Skype.

The obvious beneficiary for the project is Chrome OS, and specifically Gmail, which already offers video and voice chat through the browser using a proprietary plug-in. But Google has bigger plans for WebRTC. 

The company hopes web developers will create voice and chat applications using HTML and Javascript APIs using its WebRTC open source technology, and it has pledged to work with browser rivals Mozilla and Opera -- its WebM buddies -- to integrate this technology into their respective programs. With this, and collaborating with groups such as IETF and W3C, Google hopes to define and implement a set of standards for real time communications.

"Until now, real time communications required the use of proprietary signal processing technology that was mostly delivered through plug-ins and client downloads," reads a post on the project's blog. "With WebRTC, we are open sourcing the voice and video engine technologies from our acquisition of GIPS, giving developers access to state of the art signal processing technology, under a royalty free BSD style license."

That would mean any developer using this technology would be able to offer an open alternative to Skype and the like, across platforms and in a growing range of devices with just a web-based application.

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