Google reduces Chrome's reliance on Flash

Google reduces Chrome's reliance on Flash

Summary: Flash will slowly fade from Google's Chrome desktop browser, as the web-giant tests technology that will eliminate plug-ins traditionally needed for webcam and microphone use.

TOPICS: Google, Open Source

Google is continuing its trend of eliminating Flash from its ecosystem, extending its efforts to the latest beta version of Chrome.

On Google's Chrome blog, Google software engineer Robert Toscano went through the latest changes to the desktop browser — including the ability to use webcams and microphones without the need of a Flash plug-in.

Toscano wrote that the change was due to the browser adopting WebRTC — a "new real-time communications standard that aims to allow high-quality video and audio communication on the web". The development of the standard is also supported by Mozilla and Opera, although it is technically a Google project. The web giant has stated that it will not charge royalties for its use. Last week, at Google I/O 2012, Google test lead for WebRTC Justin Uberti outlined, in detail, how the standard works and how it could change web use.

Implementing WebRTC means that users won't have to rely on Flash for Google Hangouts, video chat in Google Talk or even direct uploads from YouTube's recording feature.

However, the RTC part of the name — real-time communication — reflects the fact that it also brings Kinect-style video gesturing to the web browser, rather than just being another video player replacement.

Toscano points to Stinkdigital, which has already used the technology to create a playable xylophone. The virtual instrument is overlaid in the user's webcam feed, and is played by detecting users' hands movements in front of the camera.

According to Uberti, Google expects WebRTC to be implemented in Opera and Firefox by the end of the year, and expects it to be adopted in mobile browsers shortly after.

Google's move away from its dependence on Flash is in line with Adobe halting support for Flash in future versions of Android, starting with Android Jelly Bean.

In addition to plug-in-less video, the next version of Chrome will also bring Google's Cloud Print feature to the fore. Options to send documents to cloud-connected printers, Google Drive, mobile devices or, where applicable, a FedEx office, have been given prominence in the print dialog box of the new beta.

Topics: Google, Open Source

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • Can't happen fast enough

    Flash is in a constant state of "crashed" on my Vista desktop.
    • I think that's every OS.

      Mac users have an old saying - "If it's a crash, it must be Flash."
  • The browsers should just drop Flash

    You know Adobe just released the last update on mobile Android for Flash. They are dropping and development. Only doing security updates. How long that will be is anyone's guess?
    Google Chrome should just drop Flash support. I would say many should just drop it. We would see a lot of malware go away.
  • rtc

    I would have thought RTC will be the underlining technology in Mozilla mobile OS, which is due to be release sometime the first quarter of next year.

    I doubt we will see it drop from chrome until all of the adverts that use are using HTML5.
  • Hacking and Tracking?

    If the browser can access microphone and webcam, then we could see either Google spying and data mining people or new exploits that allow malicious websites to intercept webcam or microphone input.

    Am I the only one that sees red flags in this?
    • Not really what Google has in mind

      Conceptually you are correct, but this is not the case.
      The issue is definitely not Google doing the spying but third parties with access to these resources simply because you entered their web site.
      I've written about this one already here:
      It got an interesting comment from Serge Lachapelle who is the Product Manager of the WebRTC Chrome development in Google itself.
      Tsahi Levent-Levi