Google has announced that Chrome 21 is ready for the beta channel. As always, the changelog isn’t spectacularly impressive, but there are a couple of new stuffs worth mentioning.
Google has been consistently pushing the boundaries of what a web browser can do. After enabling browsers to render sophisticated 3D graphics with the help of WebGL and Native Client, Google is aiming for plugin-less support for hardware peripherals like webcams and gamepads.
The first new feature in Chrome 21 is support for getUserMedia API that can be used to access the user’s webcam and mic without relying on any third-party plugins like Flash. Google is dubbing this as the first step towards “enabling high quality video and audio communication as part of WebRTC, a powerful new real-time communications standard for the open web platform”. Google currently has a few cool demoes to showcase what this piece of new technology can do. However, don’t expect it to gain prominence until other browser developers also move to support it. Opera 12 for desktop and mobile is the only other browser to support getUserMedia.
Both of these enhancements represent another step towards realizing Google’s dream of a fully featured browser based operating system.
In a separate announcement, Google also revealed that Chrome 22 onwards it will be dropping support for Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard).