General • Last Updated 5/10/2024

WebRTC video chat API and streaming explained

Add powerful streaming and chat capabilities to your application with WebRTC video chat API. Learn more about WebRTC solutions.

By Brian Segal

Man and woman using video chat API

The business landscape changes quickly, particularly in the past few years: remote work and collaboration have become less of a commodity and more of a necessity. Video conferencing and chat is a crucial part of today's competitive business toolbox.

WebRTC, announced in 2011, is an open source project that quickly grew in popularity. In this post, you'll learn what WebRTC video is, how it works and what makes it the perfect solution for your real-time communication needs.

What is WebRTC video?

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), enables direct communication between browsers. Through a collection of APIs, WebRTC allows browsers to exchange information and data such as video, audio and text files.

What makes WebRTC video so attractive is the ability for browsers to directly communicate with each other. This differs from alternative video streaming technologies—such as Websockets—which only establishes a connection between a client (such as a browser) and a web server.

When it comes to video and live streaming, WebRTC offers a faster and more user friendly experience. Let’s dive deeper into what’s going on in the background.

Here’s How it Works

With WebRTC, clients have the ability to directly communicate with each other, bypassing the server almost entirely. However, this doesn’t mean that WebRTC doesn’t need the server at all. With the seemingly infinite number of clients out there, how do clients know with whom they’re supposed to communicate?

Essentially, the connection between clients-or browsers-is established through a process known as signaling. Signaling works as follows:

  • A client will signal to the server that they would like to communicate with a secondary client, and provide their information.
  • The server will then take that information, and signal the request to the secondary client.
  • If the secondary client accepts, they will signal their information back to the server.
  • The server will then start communication between the two clients.

With the connection established, the two clients will be able to communicate with each other without the server having any interaction.

Major Benefits of WebRTC Video Chat

What makes WebRTC so attractive for video in particular? While video streaming is possible with Websockets, the extra requests between client and server can cause latency. Latency may not be as big of an issue for non-video files, but when it comes to things like video conferencing and video chat, even an extra second of delay can cause issues.

WebRTC video allows for faster streaming, removing the need for additional applications. Instead, communication takes place directly between the web browsers, which reduces the resources required and provides additional features.

Getting Started with WebRTC Video

If you want to explore what's possible with WebRTC and video communications, Telnyx is here to help, talk to an expert today.

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