Google Chrome 21 comes with native communication and cloud print support (without Flash)

In a move which most of the critics of rapid update cycle call to be one of those rare moments when major changes that really affect users get incorporated in an upgrade, Google Chrome has added native support for communication services such as webcam and microphone in its latest version 21.

Google Chrome 21 now includes the getUserMedia API, an API which enables websites to access the webcam and mic of users without the need of any third-party plug-ins. The Google Chrome Blog notes that this is one of the first steps towards implementing WebRTC, and this API implementation allows developers to do some cool sh!t:

The getUserMedia API also allows sites to create cool new experiences that weren’t previously possible in the browser. For example, Romuald Quantin and Magnus Dahlstrand at Stinkdigital have created a Magic Xylophone that you can play just by waving your hands in front of the camera.

Opera 12 already supports WebRTC, which allows for real-time communication; and, as we reported earlier, Microsoft is working on providing WebRTC support for Skype. At the same time, Mozilla is also working behind the scenes to get friendly with getUserMedia and WebRTC.

Chrome 21 update also brings with it many other new features including integration to Google Cloud Print, which is now available within the print dialog box of Google Chrome, making it easier to print to a variety of your services or devices without having to be physically connected.

At the time of this writing, Chrome 21 is still in Beta. So to test out all these new cool features, step on over the Beta release channel of Google Chrome, if you aren’t there already.

[via Google Chrome Blog]

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6 comments

  1. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @WebHybrid: You do realize there has always been the ability to access your camera and mic from the browser? This new change just eliminates the need for Flash or such plug-ins. I really don’t see the big deal. I highly doubt websites will be able to take control of cameras and mics without user permission, just like they couldn’t with Flash.

  2. Zapped Sparky

    If your worried about being spied on, ye olde piece of tape should suffice. To go OTT, visit device manager, disable the webcam and remove the drivers for it. I’ve never done a video call so have no idea if a “request” is made or if the site you visit just activates it by default. Personally I don’t want to find out, an image of my ugly mug wandering around could be enough to break the internet :)

  3. WebHybrid

    @Ashraf:

    That the author thinks it’s “cool” to have some slick new way for somebody to activate my camera and mic… that’s what’s so awful it has to be a joke.

    It’s an *invasion* – not a “feature.”

  4. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    @John K and @WebHybrid: I’m not sure what the issue is. I haven’t tried this new webcam feature myself but I presume it will ask for user permission before allowing any website access to webcam or mic. The only difference here is you no longer need a third-party plugin, such as Flash, to use webcam and mic on a website.

    @WebHybrid: Why would this blog entry be a joke? Im confused.

  5. WebHybrid

    This is a “feature”? Designed by Dick Cheney? Or is this blog entry a joke?

    Will disabling this horrendous nightmare be easy?

    And yes, @John K, there has been tape over my webcam for years.