Apple seems to have a bit of a split personality, a slightly schizoid approach to new technology. On the one side, Apple embraces new tech and pushes it kicking and screaming into the company’s customer base and ecosystem.
Remember USB? Pushed by Apple. FireWire? Pushed by Apple. HTML5? Pushed by Apple. Flash? Squashed by Apple. You get the idea. On the other side, Apple, for a variety of undisclosed reasons, remains slow to adopt what competing companies deem valuable. Here’s one that rolls right off your tongue. WebRTC.
Chat With Me, Safari
While online, most of us chat with one another the old fashioned ways. iChat. Messages. FaceTime. Even Skype or a dozen other protocols and systems, each of which requires an app to be on both ends; chatter and chattee. Enter WebRTC, a new way to manage chat sessions and audio and video within a browser window, sans a plugin of any kind.
WebRTC is a way to have peer-to-peer communication– chat, voice, video, file sharing, et al– without a plugin or a separate application. It’s built in to the browser. Except Apple’s Safari browser. All the major browser makers support WebRTC. Google’s Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox, even Microsoft’s new Edge browser. They support WebRTC.
Apple does not. Until now.
Apple’s newest version of Safari, the one called Safari Technology Preview, is out but does not yet support WebRTC, but it’s likely to in future versions, which means Apple has yielded to the competition and finally adopted something everyone else– even Microsoft– already has. Click Here to get the Safari Technology Preview but be prepared not to be wowed. WebRTC is a peer-to-peer technology so for it to work you need someone, someplace, at the other end to peer with.
Interesting, too, is that WebRTC came from Google to the web standards body, and Apple is the last of the major web users to come on board. On board? Well, almost. Apple hasn’t announced full support for WebRTC, but has it approved as in development for WebKit, upon which Safari Development Preview is built.
Yes. But somewhere down the road we’ll see browsers that can communicate with people running other browsers– chat, video, audio. I think of it as face-to-face forums in real time. Or, more prurient aspects of WebRTC might include online, real-time dating sites. Or, quick customer support for products and services.
Apple has this love hate relationship with standards; choosing to go it alone where it works for Apple, and choosing to use off-the-shelf technology and standards where it makes sense for Apple to do so.
In other words, same old same old Apple.