Phoning Firefox: Browser now makes Web calls

By | June 26, 2013

20130625-183248.jpgMozilla today shipped Firefox 22, enabling the in-browser audio-video calling standard WebRTC and switching on a new JavaScript module that promises to speed up Web apps.

The update also included patches for 17 security vulnerabilities, seven of them marked “critical.”

Mozilla highlighted several of the changes in Firefox 22, notably the default support for WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications), an open-source API (application programming interface) that Web applications can call for in-browser audio and video communications without requiring specialized plug-ins like Adobe’s Flash.

WebRTC traces its roots to Google, which acquired the VP8 video codec in 2010 from a company called On2, open-sourced the technology and pushed for its adoption as a standard by the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C). Mozilla engineers have been also working on the project to implement WebRTC in Firefox.

Google’s Chrome supports WebRTC, and Opera Software developers are also involved in the initiative. In February, Google and Mozilla announced that their browsers were interoperable, letting users of Chrome and Firefox communicate with each other.

Mozilla has also made WebRTC a foundation of its mobile phone strategy, which relies on Firefox OS, a lightweight browser-based operating system that will power low-cost phones from several carrier and handset partners, the latter to include FoxConn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer best known as an assembler of Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

Firefox 22 also comes with a new JavaScript subset, dubbed “asm.js,” that promises to significantly boost the execution of JavaScript code and Web apps written in the popular scripting language.

Mozilla calls its asm.js module “OdinMonkey,” a tip to the name “SpiderMonkey” used for its current JavaScript engine. According to Mozilla, developers who use cross-compilers that produce code – Emscripten for example – can generate optimized JavaScript with near-native code performance.

“Native code” refers to programs designed for a specific processor’s or processor family’s instruction set. Windows 8, for example, is native code for the Intel x86 and x64 instruction sets.

Mozilla’s OdinMonkey is an answer of sorts to Google’s Native Client, a technology that lets developers turn applications written in C and C++ – software originally intended to run in, say, Windows – into ones that execute entirely within desktop Chrome and Chrome OS. …

Can we encrypt calls? Nevermind, Firefox phones didn’t survive. This is from Feb 5, 2016:

Maybe you didn’t bat an eye when Mozilla killed off Firefox phones.

The nonprofit, after all, faced long odds in taking on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile software. And the Firefox OS software had been on a downward trajectory over the past year.

But you should care that Mozilla admitted defeat Thursday because it’s further evidence that we live in an Apple-and-Google-only mobile world. Both increasingly draw you into their universe of native apps, where they have more control over what you use. Mozilla, by contrast, offered a more open alternative. The nonprofit’s overall waning influence has made it harder to build a vibrant Web, extend its utility to phones, and keep Google and Apple power in check.

Not that Google or Apple are up to anything nefarious, but history is full of examples of big companies abusing their powers, including Microsoft, IBM and the old Ma Bell version of AT&T. You already see heavy-handed behavior with your phone. Don’t like Apple Maps on iOS? Tough luck. It’s the default. …

via CNet

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