Apple commits support for WebRTC in Safari 11

Big news for the online video industry last week! At this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple officially announced support for WebRTC in Safari 11, which will ship with the new iOS 11 and Mac OS 10.13 in September.

Although some details of the implementation are still unknown, the Safari 11 page mentions update pointers including “support for real-time communication using WebRTC.” It has also updated WebKit, the engine that powers its Safari browser, to add WebRTC as ‘in development’ to its list of open specifications, including support for WebRTC DataChannels.

At present, it is fully enabled on Chrome, Firefox and Opera, with support on Edge announced last January as well, making Apple the last major browser to implement the powerful real-time communications protocol. For those of you unfamiliar with the technology, WebRTC enables peer-to-peer (P2P) communication natively between browsers using JavaScript, APIs and HTML5, without plugins. Originally started as a Google-led initiative in 2012, it has become an indispensable tool used extensively by many popular service providers and applications like Hangouts and Skype.

WebRTC applied to video delivery

In addition to its most well-known uses for video conferencing, WebRTC has many implications for video streaming. In 2013, Streamroot became the first to harness the potential of WebRTC in video delivery and build a peer-accelerated video delivery solution, Streamroot CDN Mesh Delivery (formerly Streamroot DNA).

Streamroot has created the largest P2P network based on WebRTC, which intelligently routes requests for video segments either from the traditional CDN or from other devices viewing the content at the same time. The devices in our mesh network use WebRTC DataChannels to exchange segments directly with other browsers – all without a plugin, and right within their HTML5 player!

With Chrome, Firefox, Opera and now Safari supporting WebRTC, Streamroot captures another 15% of the browser market, making it compatible with nearly 95% of modern desktop browsers. This additional compatibility unlocks additional savings for broadcasters, who can reap the benefits of distributed delivery across almost every browser.

What’s more, this announcement could not come at a more fitting time, as Streamroot just released Android and iOS SDKs for mobile, as well as our Chromecast integration. With the addition of Safari as well as SDKs for mobile apps, we are coming ever closer to offering a universal distributed delivery solution available on every browser and every platform!

Safari, WebRTC and Video: What lies ahead?

We are thrilled that Apple has at long last decided to make webRTC a reality in Safari. This comes on the heels of a series of promising steps towards adopting open standards and promoting interoperability, especially when it comes to streaming video.

Last year, Apple began supporting fragmented MP4 in HLS, bringing promise that the Common Media Application Format will be able to support both MPEG-DASH and HLS streaming from a single source. Since then, there has also been progress on the DRM convergence front, with Microsoft quietly announcing at NAB that they will add support for CBC by the end of 2017.

The icing on the cake now would be media source extensions (MSE) in Safari mobile (Apple, if you’re out there, pretty please!!). Being able to use MSE-based players in apps would further advance convergence efforts and give developers the control they need to create seamless user experiences and customize playback…

But for now, with iOS users quick to adopt the latest hardware and software, we look forward to a swift transition into Safari 11 and new uses to follow!

For more information on the WebRTC in Safari, check out the Webkit announcement, and to play around with the new functionalities, download the Safari Technology Preview Release 32!

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