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Thanks to the growth of VOIP, more and more phone calls are being routed through the internet, and telephony-as-a-service platforms like Twilio are giving developers new opportunities to do interesting things with Alexander Graham Bell's invention.

Today, it's possible to talk to a friend on the other side of the globe using desktop programs like Skype, or to click a button on a website and conduct a phone call in the browser with a merchant thousands of miles away.

When it comes to browser-based calls, third-party plugins like Flash and Java are required. But that may not be the case for much longer.

One VOIP provider Voxeo Labs, which runs its own telephony-as-a-platform service Tropo, is showing how the browser may become a telephone in the near future. TheNextWeb's Martin Bryant explains:

Using its own Phono SDK, Voxeo Labs has demoed a way of making calls using the WebRTC technology included in the Canary build of Google’s Chrome browser. Backed by Google, Mozilla and Opera, WebRTC is an open source project that allows developers to create real-time communications apps for the Web via Javascript APIs and HTML5.

WebRTC is currently only supported in the Canary build of Chrome, which is for developers, but as Bryant observes, "if it gets adopted as a Web standard down the line, we could see services like this become commonplace."

While it remains to be seen whether WebRTC will be widely adopted, or when, it's inevitable that browsers will continue to grow their capabilities. That's good news for consumers, who will increasingly be able to do things, like make browser-based telephone calls sans plugin, but it's also largely bad news for Adobe Flash, which continues to find its market narrowed.

Patricio Robles

Published 1 March, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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