Chrome 23 beta pumps up video support

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It was just about a week ago that Google released version 22 of its Chrome browser, but on Tuesday the beta version of Chrome 23 made its debut, complete with a big boost in video support.

“In recent years, video has taken a central role on the web,” wrote Google software engineer Justin Uberti in a blog post announcing the news. “Developers are using the latest web technologies to make it easier for users to access, watch, and create video content. Today’s Chrome Beta update includes more tools for developers to take video engagement to the next level.”

With 'track,' videos can now be enhanced with metadata such as a Google Map showing a biker’s route and a Google Street View from the biker’s location (Click image to enlarge.)

Several new features are included in this latest version of the popular browser, in fact. Here's a rundown of a few of them.

1. Real-time audio and video calling

At the top of the list of new features in the Chrome 23 beta is the PeerConnection API, which allows developers to create Web apps with real-time audio and video calling without the need for a plug-in.

“Together, PeerConnection and the getUserMedia API represent the next steps in WebRTC, a new standard which aims to allow high quality video, audio, and data communications on the web,” Uberti explained.

Both the getUserMedia API and WebRTC figured prominently in Google's Chrome 21 release in late July.

2. Video enhancement

Also included in this new Chrome beta version is “track” support for HTML5 video, offering an easy, standard way to add subtitles, captions, descriptions, chapters, and metadata to videos. It can also be used to make videos accessible or split videos into sections, for example.

“Track provides developers with a unified, programmatic mechanism for doing all these things in the HTML DOM and Javascript,” Uberti pointed out.

3. Adaptive video playback

Then, too, there's the MediaSource API, offering a video playback solution that adapts video quality to changing computer and network conditions. The result is that it can prevent excessive buffering and startup delays for videos, allowing them to play “silky smooth with no annoying stutters,” Uberti said.

4. Pepper Flash

Last but not least, though it's not in the official Chrome 23 beta announcement, I was reminded recently of Google's Pepper Flash and think it's worth mentioning because it's gotten relatively little coverage.

Based on Google's enhanced PPAPI application programming interface, this new Adobe Flash Player alternative has been part of Chrome for Windows ever since the arrival of Chrome 21 this summer; Linux users, in fact, have had the benefit of PPAPI Flash, also known as “Pepper Flash,” since Chrome 20.

The benefits are many, including a security-enhancing sandbox for Flash, fewer Flash crashes, faster rendering, and smoother scrolling, as Google software engineer Justin Schuh pointed out in an August blog post.

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