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Would you like to hear a secret? It’s a big one. Are you sure you can handle it? Okay, here goes. There are other web browsers besides Google Chrome.

I know, shocking. Chrome is, for the most part, becoming what Internet Explorer was in 1999: completely and utterly dominant in the browser market, but it’s not hard to see why. Chrome’s just really, really good. It’s got support for a majority of HTML5 standards What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few years, you may have heard the term HTML5 every once in a while. Whether you know anything about web development or not, the concept can be somewhat nebulous and confusing. Obviously,... Read More , and comes with some pretty powerful developer tools Figure Out Website Problems With Chrome Developer Tools Or Firebug Figure Out Website Problems With Chrome Developer Tools Or Firebug If you've been following my jQuery tutorials so far, you may have already run into some code problems and not known how to fix them. When faced with a non-functional bit of code, it's very... Read More . It’s also open source, and has a massive array of extensions which make it easier to work, and to goof-off from said work.

So, why on earth would you want to try another browser? Well, there are some pretty compelling reasons. If you’re using Windows 8.1 Windows 8.1 Update Is Here! What It Is & How To Get It Now Windows 8.1 Update Is Here! What It Is & How To Get It Now Curious about the latest Windows 8.1 Update or not sure what this is about? KB2919355 is a cumulative update that comes with useful features. It can also be removed in case it causes issues. Read More , you might want to use a browser that closely meshes with the look-and-feel of touch-friendly Metro. If you’re concerned about blazing-fast browsing, you might want to use Safari, which is drastically faster than Chrome, largely thanks to its phenomenal JavaScript interpreter What is JavaScript, And Can the Internet Exist Without It? What is JavaScript, And Can the Internet Exist Without It? JavaScript is one of those things many take for granted. Everybody uses it. Read More .

But these two browsers come with a crushing downside. Some of the advanced functionality of the HTML5 spec isn’t available. Namely, WebRTC, which is a cornerstone of many websites which use real-time communications to function. Broadly speaking, this means IM apps, games, and video conferencing tools like appear.in, which we’re really big fans of at MakeUseOf. Although Microsoft has made overtures towards bringing support to IE, they still lag behind, as the chart below shows.

webrtc-ie

Internet Explorer and Safari can’t handle WebRTC natively, unfortunately. But the key-word there is ‘natively‘. With a simple browser plugin, you can make IE and Safari work just like Chrome and Firefox. Here’s how.

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Meet Temasys and Skylink

Temasys is a Singaporean startup who live and breathe WebRTC. They’re acutely aware of the potential of this amazing technology, but also know that only Opera, Firefox and Chrome users can take advantage of it. So, they’ve released Skylink, a free plugin for OS X and Windows which brings WebRTC to Safari and Internet Explorer.

You can find the appropriate download for your platform here. But how do you use it?

For OS X

Well, let’s first take a look at getting WebRTC working with Safari and OS X. SkyLink comes packaged as an all-familiar DMG file, which when opened reveals a Safari extension, and a shortcut to the folder where Safari extensions are kept. When copied over, you will be prompted for your password.

webrtc-password

If you have Safari open, you will need to close and re-open it in order for it to take effect. Then you’ll have a WebRTC compatible browser. Congratulations! To check that it works, pay a visit to netscan.co, which will run a number of tests in order to determine how much of the WebRTC spec your browser supports.

webrtc-netscan

Before it makes any checks of your system, you will first have to grant it permission to use the SkyLink WebRTC plugin. If you’re happy with that, click ‘trust’.

webrtc-trust

If it worked, you should see something like this.

webrtc-success

For Windows

Adding WebRTC support to Internet Explorer is also really easy. The Termasys Skylink plugin for Windows is distributed as an MSI file, making installing it a matter of clicking a file, and accepting a license agreement.

webrtc-windows-install

Once installed, you should see something like this.

webrtc-windows-install-success

And that’s about it. You shouldn’t have to manually authenticate the plugin for each website you visit, because Internet Explorer does that for you. Although you will have to add an exception for it in Windows Firewall in order to let it know that your traffic is legitimate. This is because of how WebRTC uses Network Address Traversal (NAT) to communicate with computers outside of your home network.

webrtc-exception

But There’s A Catch…

Whilst Skylink brings full WebRTC support to Internet Explorer and Safari, not every WebRTC-powered website supports it… Say what?

Yes, having the plugin installed on your computer is only half the battle. The websites themselves need to make a small tweak in order for them to detect the plugin. The bad news is that some websites, such as appear.in, have not made this tweak. The good news is a great many others have, including:

Found any more? Tell me about them in the comments section below. 

  1. Happy Jack
    November 5, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    ClicktoPlugin and ClicktoFlash no longer work in Safari 10.x :( Anyone else know of alternatives?

  2. Bruce Kay
    February 18, 2015 at 3:08 am

    There's another catch. Apple is very careful to make sure that there are no unmatched security leaks in Safari. As we all know, plug-ins are one of the largest causes of online security holes. No offense, but we don't know how fast and how fully internet plugins are updated to patch security lapses. There is something to be said for using HTML5 standards throughout. THAT is really the future of the web.

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 21, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Oh, I agree that WebRTC is the future of the web, but I honestly can't see Apple blocking this plugin. It's a legitimate plugin, made by a well known company. I just don't see how it can introduce that much of a potential attack vector for Apple to intervene.

  3. Ryan
    February 18, 2015 at 3:04 am

    WebRTC isn't necessarily the greatest, especially if you're concerned about masking your IP address. http://thehackernews.com/2015/02/webrtc-leaks-vpn-ip-address.html

    • anoymous
      February 18, 2015 at 6:08 pm

      You can have my ip address its 192.168.1.200 :D

    • Matthew Hughes
      February 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      True, but that only really affects people using VPNs, right? That's an edge-case, especially when you consider WebRTC is for real-time communications, and VPNs introduce a hell of a lot of latency to real-time communications.

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