Microsoft has just added support for media capture APIs in Microsoft Edge for the first time in the latest Windows 10 preview release update. In an official Microsoft blog entry, the Microsoft Edge Team reveals that this feature is based on the Media Capture and Streams specification which is known by some developers as getUserMedia. This specification allows webpages to access media capture devices such as webcams and microphones.
They admit that while the implementation of media capture features in a web browser has the potential for a lot of exciting uses, there are also serious security concerns to consider which is why they have implemented the following precautions;
- If the webpage is from an HTTP origin, the user will be prompted for permission when a capture device is accessed through the getUserMedia() call. We will allow permission to persist for the specific capture device type until all capture devices of the specific type are released by the webpage.
- For webpages from an HTTPS origin, when a user grants permission for a webpage to access a capture device, the permission will persist for the specific capture device type. If the user navigates away to another page, all permissions will be dismissed. Microsoft Edge does not store any permanent permissions for a page or domain.
- When a webpage calls getUserMedia() from an iframe, we will manage the capture device permission separately based on its own URL. This provides protection to the user in cases where the iframe is from a different domain than its parent webpage.
A rather cool idea that will be introduced in a future update in the Edge browser is the inclusion of a “recording” badge in the tab title to indicate which browser tabs are recording picture or audio.
Naturally several functions are in early development and this release of the browser still has certain media capture limitations which are expected to get refined in future Windows Insider updates. Some examples of limitations include issues with audio capture which is currently limited to device default audio sample size and rate, lack of support for echoCancellation in the MediaTrackConstraintSet and a bug that prevents users from changing the resolution when capturing visuals from a webcam.
The full post goes into much more detail in regards to the coding and provides several specific examples on how to use the basic Microsoft Edge basic media capture features in software development and is worth a read if you happen to be a software developer.
The ability for a web browser to capture media through the use of a microphone or webcam isn’t necessarily ground-breaking news in itself (all current internet browsers have had that ability for a while now) but it’s interesting to see Microsoft add known features like this into their new browser, and build it up to be the powerhouse browser they’ve promised and that Windows’ users want.
Microsoft Edge isn’t just a new version of Internet Explorer with a new name and Microsoft seems to be using this fresh start to take a new look at the internet browsing experience and build something genuinely exciting from the ground up. Microsoft has already announced a variety of legacy technologies that won’t be used in Edge in addition to several new features, like Cortana integration, that the new browser will be getting after its summer launch.
Are you excited for Microsoft Edge? What features would you like to see?