Announced yesterday by Google developer advocate, Paul Kinlan, at the recent 'Develop' conference in Liverpool, it appears as though Google Chrome is due some rather significant updates during the first quarter of 2012. The conference itself focuses on game development and so the following announcements are geared around this, likely only a subset of things to come for Chrome in early 2012.
Amongst the updates, plug-and-play gamepad support will be introduced. With the increase in HTML5 web apps and Google's Chrome Web Store, there's more reason than ever to bring a fully integrated console-like experience to the web, with this update making it possible to use a gamepad natively for a Chromebook or in fact any device running Chrome as web-browser. The idea will be for an end-user to simply plug in their controller and play, without the need for any plug-in or 3rd party installations.
Webcam and microphone support will also be made plug-and-play friendly, with the same instant-connect benefits gamepads will receive. There's a particular focus on the possibility of using this to enable a much more widespread usage of Augmented Reality in games and applications on the web; something which even supermarket chain Tesco has taken to, though is currently having to use an experimental 3rd party plug-in.
The final update announced was the plan to support WebRTC, an open-source real-time communications application, with specific focus on video chat that can run directly in-browser, again, with no plug-ins required. Aside from the obvious implications of web-chat to talk to friends, this could open up new avenues in game interaction and even matters as simple as face-to-face website support for those who are so inclined.
With Adobe recently dropping support for flash on mobiles, a move damaging one of the core benefits of the cumbersome plug-in, multi-platform support, along with the increasingly functional HTML5 raring to take its place, updates like these could help usher in the new standard sooner rather than later. Thanks to Google's release of a new major version of Chrome every six weeks, we no longer have to wait long periods of time for new web technology to come our way.
With gamepad and WebGL support, we're starting to wonder why Google doesn't just launch a HTML5 gaming console. The more likely scenario of course, is that others will build on the infrastructure Google is putting in place and offer some very interesting services in the near future. It's exciting times for web-development right now.