Opera for Android adds native WebRTC video chat support

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Opera for Android is joining the WebRTC party, following in the footsteps of other popular Android browsers including Chrome and Firefox. The Norway-based browser maker announced Thursday morning that Opera 20 for Android now comes with WebRTC functionality built-in.

"The web is the ultimate meeting place for all forms of communication, so why not build video communication capabilities right into the mobile browser?” said Opera Software's mobile chief Peter Wallman in the company's announcement.

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Natively video chatting with Santa using Opera for Android's new WebRTC support. 

WebRTC is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla, and Opera that uses core web technologies such as Javascript and HTML 5 to create browser-based video chat. Instead of downloading a plug-in such as Skype for Outlook.com, you just visit a WebRTC-compatible web app and invite others with compatible browsers for voice and video chat.

The technology is also designed with a variety of other features including screen and file sharing.

Although not yet universally supported, WebRTC is available on most modern browsers for PC including Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. The only major exceptions are Safari for Mac and iOS, and Internet Explorer.

Apple hasn't had much to say about WebRTC or if Safari will support the technology in the future; however, the company is a recent member of the WebRTC Working Group responsible for developing the standard.

Microsoft, also a member of the working group, is developing a second app-less video chat standard called Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communication (CURTC). Microsoft has argued that WebRTC is not good enough for a robust browser-based chat standard, and wants its technology to be adopted.

If you'd like to try out WebRTC in Opera, sites such as appear.in, talky.io, or apprtc.appspot.com will let you get a feel for how WebRTC works. You can also see the site Is WebRTC Ready Yet? from &yet the makers of talky.io that breaks down each browser's WebRTC capabilities.

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