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Chrome 57 Creates Challenges for WebRTC

March 17, 2017

Google this month begins its rollout of Chrome 57 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. On the up side, this new browser release features API improvements, CSS Grid Layout, and a bunch of new stuff aimed at developers. But, on the down side, changes in Chrome 57 are creating big problems for WebRTC.

Let’s talk about the good news first.

A few of the API improvements in Chrome 57 relate to Fetch API Response, the Media Session API, the Payment Request API, and the WebAssembly API.

  • The Fetch API Response now supports .redirected. As a result, Web developers can avoid untrustworthy responses.
  • The Media Session API allows developers to customize the lock screen UI and notifications with media content. That enables developers to create rich lock screen messaging, leveraging things like album name, artist, artwork, and title.
  • Payment Request API can be used with an iframe.
  • And WebAssembly API can now be enabled by default. That allows developers to run near-native code in the browser without a plug-in.

Meanwhile, CSS Grid Layout is an interface design tool that provides developers a greater level of control. It features a two-dimensional layout. Elements can span multiple columns or rows of the grid. And developers can do their own naming.

“Sites are increasingly being accessed on screens of all sizes, from large LCD TVs to tiny watch faces,” notes the Chromium Blog. “Historically, supporting all of these screen sizes required complex combinations of markup and CSS, making code hard to maintain. To give developers more granular control over how elements grow and shrink to fit the current screen size, CSS Grid Layout is now available.”

As Mbedded reports, Chrome 57 also offers improved battery efficiency due to new background tab throttling maneuvers.

“Specifically, if a tab has been untouched for more than 10 seconds, Google will limit how much of your CPU it can sip, therefore cutting back energy consumption and resulting in (at least according to Google) 25 percent more efficiency,” explains Mbedded. “This feature is great for those who tend to leave lots of tabs open in Chrome and forget about them.”

But, as noted up top, not everybody sees all of the new features within Chrome 57 as improvements.

Mark Wilson in a January article for betanews talked about how with Chrome 57, Google has removed the ability to control and disable plug-ins, which he said is “a step in the wrong direction in terms of user-friendliness, and also a security concern.”

Nimble Ape reported in January that the fact that the WebRTC stack in Chrome has gone from “negotiate” to “require” with 57 can cause problems in RTPEngine and Asterisk. Nimble Ape goes on to explain some steps you can take to address this new challenge.

And a look at this GitHub conversation illustrates that many folks have experienced WebRTC errors on Chrome 57.

Given Chrome has 1 billion users, that’s a big problem for WebRTC, which allows real-time communications to be accessible within a browser and without users needing to download plug-ins. And it’s odd, considering Google has been a leading advocate of WebRTC. In fact, WebRTC got its start at Global IP Solutions, which Google purchased in 2011, and shortly after that made the technology open source, kicking off the WebRTC movement.

If you’d like to learn more about WebRTC, be sure to check out TMC and Crossfire Media’s newest conference and expo, Communications 20/20, happening July 18-20 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The event will focus on the next wave of technology and innovations that will transcend the importance of person to person contact, disrupting the future of the entire communications industry. Find out more HERE.

Edited by Alicia Young

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