Tech Talks

WebRTC vs WebSockets – Which One is Right for Your Application?

Published On November 25th, 2022 Tech Talks

With the pace with which communication is happening, everyone wishes to experience lag-free video or voice chats in their chat platform, but unfortunately, it takes a tough stone to make a tender video calling app.  

Besides the time and cost involved to build a video chat app, many business owners are starting to feel gritty about whether to choose WebRTC or WebSocket as the communication protocol as both are the front runners of communication.

Fortunately, research has helped man in identifying that WebRTC is slightly preferred over any other protocols. 

So, in the article below, we’ll give a fair insight into the comparison of WebRTC vs WebSocket and other factors to help you make an educated decision for your app.

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) is an open-source communication protocol created by Google that enables real-time chat, voice, and live video call between web applications and devices. They can also handle multiple device connections without losing their integrity with the help of signaling servers.T

he WebRTC protocol is device and platform independent and so can be implemented as an open web standard on all mobile devices. Be it Android, iOS, or browsers like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, BlackBerry, and Internet Explorer, WebRTC technology supports any OS with simple JavaScript APIs.

What is WebSocket?

A WebSocket is a type of communication protocol that allows for a persistent, bi-directional, and full duplex TCP connection between user’s browser and server. 

This server-to-client message delivery tool is used by developers to predominantly establish real-time voice and video communications. In most cases, WebSockets are used to display data continuously on the client side. A perfect example of it would be a bitcoin trading website, where the backend server displays trading data continuously on the dashboard.

How Does WebRTC Work?

When two users send and receive messages using the WebRTC protocol, there comes the next challenge. They will be connected to Private networks (ISPs) but their apps will need Public IP addresses to connect them. 

It’s here, Network Access Travel (NAT) comes to help that translates the Private IP addresses into Public IP addresses without any breach of privacy and security. 

NAT works with 2 servers – STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) and TURN (Traversal Using Relays around NAT) servers for this process. At this point, we’ll use WebRTCs to negotiate the connection between the computers via the servers mentioned above.

In real-time, when user 1 starts a video call,

  • The browser of User 1 initiates the request to either STUN or TURN servers which in turn inform your device about your Public IP. 
  • Now, your device will let the second user know how to connect to your Public IP. 
  • User 2 connects to User 1 and this process is known as Signaling.
  • From this point, both the users can make real-time conversations with each other more effectively.

Let us focus on other factors concerning WebRTCs.

  • Development Environment: C++, Java, Java Message Service (JMS)
  • Connection Stability: Uses one server

How Does WebSockets Work?

Let’s look into a practical scenario where two users need to make a video call using a web app.

When user 1 makes a video call to user 2, both their browsers must be able to send/ receive messages at the same time. These browsers are connected by a central web server, which brings us to an understanding that the constant communication between the browsers and server is what yields us real-time interaction.

In the backend, the following process occurs:

  • User 1 starts a video call,  his/ her browser initiates an HTTP request to the server. 

Note: When the server sends a response to this request, the communication becomes two-way. Unfortunately, this server cannot initiate requests/ responses on its own. It requires a communication protocol to make the server send a response.

In such cases, WebSockets are used by web developers.

When a web app uses WebSockets, the same process changes as follows:

  • The browser (client) sends a ‘handshake’ request to the server.
  • The WebSockets help the server to give back a handshake response. 
  • At this point, the protocol switches from HTTP to Websockets, establishing successful communication across browsers.
  • Thereby, both users can send/ receive data at the same time. 

Let us focus on other factors concerning WebSockets.

  • Development Environment: HTML editor & server, JavaScript editor & server
  • Connection Stability: Ideal for directly connecting 2 or more users

Are you still in a dilemma on which protocol to choose?

 
Сan’t decide in the WebRTC vs WebSockets Dilemma?

When to use WebRTC?

WebRTCs are a great choice by developers for developing the following use cases. 

WebRTC

  • HTML 5 Applications
  • IoT Apps
  • Live Broadcasting
  • Customer Support
  • HR Management
  • AI-based Conversational Assistant
  • Social Networking
  • Healthcare
  • Real-time Marketing & Advertising
  • Virtual Medical Consultations

WebSocket

WebSockets are highly preferred for the following use cases.

When to use WebSocket and WebRTC?

Both WebRTC and WebSockets are complementary technologies. One uses the other for developing different use cases. Though WebRTC is used to build P2P video chat apps, it makes use of a signaling server for opening and closing communication. 

WebRTCs do not provide any signaling implementation on their own. Here, the WebSocket protocol is used as a signaling mechanism for all WebRTC applications.

WebRTC vs WebSockets: Key Differences

  • Firstly, WebRTC is used for all P2P communications among mobile and web apps using UDP connections but WebSockets is a client-server communication protocol that works only over TCP.
  • Secondly, as WebSockets uses TCP connections, the chance of data integrity is higher when compared to WebRTC. However, speed is unmatched with WebRTC protocol.
  • Finally, WebRTCs are mainly designed for audio and video streaming. Though these are possible with WebSockets too, they are best suited for transmitting data strings using JSON formats. 

Now that we saw the basic difference between the two protocols, let us detail our study on the

Let’s Explore the Pros and Cons: WebRTC vs WebSockets

Advantages and Disadvantages of WebRTC

Advantages of WebRTC
  • Suspends the need for an additional plugin or software to make video calls
  • Cross platform compatible
  • The quality of the audio and video adjusts to the digital environment automatically
  • Built-in noise and echo cancellation
  • High-quality communication is supported by Video codecs(VP8 and H. 264) and Audio codecs(Opus)
  • Connections are encrypted via TLS and SRTP protocols thus ensuring strict security
  • In-built ‘content capture’ enabling screen sharing & desktop sharing capabilities
  • Compatible with any WebSocket interface
Disadvantages of WebRTC
  • Quality of service in public domains is not reliable
  • Integration challenges across organizations
  • The support for adaptive bitrate is limited
  • Codes may undergo changes in the future as the technology is still under development
  • The use of non-free codecs, beyond agreement by industry giants, may pose problems to third-party software developers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of WebSockets

Pros
  • Event-driven protocols instantly make the server respond to client requests without waiting
  • Reduces latency problems via a single, persistent connection
  • Supports full duplex communication
  • Establishes connections faster than HTTP & AJAX
  • Cross-platform compatible
  • Enables responsive web apps
  • Adds rich functionalities to web browsers
  • Reduces unnecessary network traffic
  • Cuts off expensive data loads to servers
Cons
  • Development is not as simple as HTTP
  • Weight of the Protocol
  • Need a complete HTML-compliant web browser to employ WebSockets
  • Does not provide Edge Caching
  • Possibility of cross-site scripting attack
  • Not supported by browsers older than 2011
  • Does not have success mechanisms as AJAX does
  • When connections terminate, WebSockets do not automatically recover them

Can WebRTCs Replace WebSockets?

A Websocket establishes a connection between two browsers (clients) via a web server. When these browsers interact, WebRTCs help sends and receive messages between these browsers without involving the web server that’s mentioned above. 

This delivers a clear message that WebSockets and WebRTCs are two separate entities in the same process. These technologies play unique roles in establishing real-time communication across web apps and browsers. 

The Verdict

From our analysis above, it is clear that WebSockets and WebRTCs cannot be directly compared against each other. However, if we were to question the robustness of both these protocols, it is no doubt that WebRTCs take the winning side for the quality of video communication transfer across devices.

If you are interested in a similar comparison between XMPP and Websockets, we’ve written an article on it – Click Here to Read!!!

Start your 21-Day Free Trial to Try Out All Our Chat Features!

Can WebRTCs Replace WebSockets?

A Websocket establishes a connection between two browsers (clients) via a web server. When these browsers interact, WebRTCs help send and receive messages between these browsers without involving the web server that’s mentioned above. This delivers a clear message that WebSockets and WebRTCs are two separate entities in the same process. These technologies play unique roles in establishing real-time communication across web apps and browsers.

How is WebRTC different from WebSockets for low-level data transmission?

WebRTC is known to offer peer-to-peer (P2P) communication capabilities for mobile and browser apps using the UDP whereas WebSockets establishes a client-server connection with the aid of TCP protocol. And so, WebRTCs are known to be considerably faster than WebSockets. Plus, WebSockets are highly preferred when it comes to data integrity because of the underlying TCP reliability. But in the case of WebRTC, data reliability is a little less.

Is WebSockets really faster than WebRTCs?

No, when it comes to speed and faster delivery of packets, WebRTC makes a stand tall here because all the P2P communication capabilities that it establishes, is done using the UDP protocol. But, when data integrity is a concern then WebSockets are preferred highly. However, WebSockets are faster than HTTP connections.

Which coding language is best for WebRTC and WebSockets?

WebSockets can usually be coded in any server-side programming language like C++, Python, PHP, or server-side JavaScript, but these languages should be capable of Berkeley sockets. Plus, the environment WebSockets can be developed using Java and JMS. In the case of WebRTC, JavaScript is a winner with a huge margin of users using this language. Along with this, WebRTC can be written in C++ too.

Krishi Shivasangaran

Krishi Shivasangaran is a digital nomad and a veteran of Digital Marketing strategies. She is passionate about learning the newest trends in video APIs. And, when she's off-role, she loves to sketch and make people realize the true color of nature.

With the pace with which communication is happening, everyone wishes to experience lag-free video or voice chats in their chat platform, but unfortunately, it takes a tough stone to make a tender video calling app.  

Besides the time and cost involved to build a video chat app, many business owners are starting to feel gritty about whether to choose WebRTC or WebSocket as the communication protocol as both are the front runners of communication.

Fortunately, research has helped man in identifying that WebRTC is slightly preferred over any other protocols. 

So, in the article below, we’ll give a fair insight into the comparison of WebRTC vs WebSocket and other factors to help you make an educated decision for your app.

What is WebRTC?

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communications) is an open-source communication protocol created by Google that enables real-time chat, voice, and live video call between web applications and devices. They can also handle multiple device connections without losing their integrity with the help of signaling servers.T

he WebRTC protocol is device and platform independent and so can be implemented as an open web standard on all mobile devices. Be it Android, iOS, or browsers like Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera, BlackBerry, and Internet Explorer, WebRTC technology supports any OS with simple JavaScript APIs.

What is WebSocket?

A WebSocket is a type of communication protocol that allows for a persistent, bi-directional, and full duplex TCP connection between user’s browser and server. 

This server-to-client message delivery tool is used by developers to predominantly establish real-time voice and video communications. In most cases, WebSockets are used to display data continuously on the client side. A perfect example of it would be a bitcoin trading website, where the backend server displays trading data continuously on the dashboard.

How Does WebRTC Work?

When two users send and receive messages using the WebRTC protocol, there comes the next challenge. They will be connected to Private networks (ISPs) but their apps will need Public IP addresses to connect them. 

It’s here, Network Access Travel (NAT) comes to help that translates the Private IP addresses into Public IP addresses without any breach of privacy and security. 

NAT works with 2 servers – STUN (Session Traversal Utilities for NAT) and TURN (Traversal Using Relays around NAT) servers for this process. At this point, we’ll use WebRTCs to negotiate the connection between the computers via the servers mentioned above.

In real-time, when user 1 starts a video call,

  • The browser of User 1 initiates the request to either STUN or TURN servers which in turn inform your device about your Public IP. 
  • Now, your device will let the second user know how to connect to your Public IP. 
  • User 2 connects to User 1 and this process is known as Signaling.
  • From this point, both the users can make real-time conversations with each other more effectively.

Let us focus on other factors concerning WebRTCs.

  • Development Environment: C++, Java, Java Message Service (JMS)
  • Connection Stability: Uses one server

How Does WebSockets Work?

Let’s look into a practical scenario where two users need to make a video call using a web app.

When user 1 makes a video call to user 2, both their browsers must be able to send/ receive messages at the same time. These browsers are connected by a central web server, which brings us to an understanding that the constant communication between the browsers and server is what yields us real-time interaction.

In the backend, the following process occurs:

  • User 1 starts a video call,  his/ her browser initiates an HTTP request to the server. 

Note: When the server sends a response to this request, the communication becomes two-way. Unfortunately, this server cannot initiate requests/ responses on its own. It requires a communication protocol to make the server send a response.

In such cases, WebSockets are used by web developers.

When a web app uses WebSockets, the same process changes as follows:

  • The browser (client) sends a ‘handshake’ request to the server.
  • The WebSockets help the server to give back a handshake response. 
  • At this point, the protocol switches from HTTP to Websockets, establishing successful communication across browsers.
  • Thereby, both users can send/ receive data at the same time. 

Let us focus on other factors concerning WebSockets.

  • Development Environment: HTML editor & server, JavaScript editor & server
  • Connection Stability: Ideal for directly connecting 2 or more users

Are you still in a dilemma on which protocol to choose?

 
Сan’t decide in the WebRTC vs WebSockets Dilemma?

When to use WebRTC?

WebRTCs are a great choice by developers for developing the following use cases. 

WebRTC

  • HTML 5 Applications
  • IoT Apps
  • Live Broadcasting
  • Customer Support
  • HR Management
  • AI-based Conversational Assistant
  • Social Networking
  • Healthcare
  • Real-time Marketing & Advertising
  • Virtual Medical Consultations

WebSocket

WebSockets are highly preferred for the following use cases.

When to use WebSocket and WebRTC?

Both WebRTC and WebSockets are complementary technologies. One uses the other for developing different use cases. Though WebRTC is used to build P2P video chat apps, it makes use of a signaling server for opening and closing communication. 

WebRTCs do not provide any signaling implementation on their own. Here, the WebSocket protocol is used as a signaling mechanism for all WebRTC applications.

WebRTC vs WebSockets: Key Differences

  • Firstly, WebRTC is used for all P2P communications among mobile and web apps using UDP connections but WebSockets is a client-server communication protocol that works only over TCP.
  • Secondly, as WebSockets uses TCP connections, the chance of data integrity is higher when compared to WebRTC. However, speed is unmatched with WebRTC protocol.
  • Finally, WebRTCs are mainly designed for audio and video streaming. Though these are possible with WebSockets too, they are best suited for transmitting data strings using JSON formats. 

Now that we saw the basic difference between the two protocols, let us detail our study on the

Let’s Explore the Pros and Cons: WebRTC vs WebSockets

Advantages and Disadvantages of WebRTC

Advantages of WebRTC
  • Suspends the need for an additional plugin or software to make video calls
  • Cross platform compatible
  • The quality of the audio and video adjusts to the digital environment automatically
  • Built-in noise and echo cancellation
  • High-quality communication is supported by Video codecs(VP8 and H. 264) and Audio codecs(Opus)
  • Connections are encrypted via TLS and SRTP protocols thus ensuring strict security
  • In-built ‘content capture’ enabling screen sharing & desktop sharing capabilities
  • Compatible with any WebSocket interface
Disadvantages of WebRTC
  • Quality of service in public domains is not reliable
  • Integration challenges across organizations
  • The support for adaptive bitrate is limited
  • Codes may undergo changes in the future as the technology is still under development
  • The use of non-free codecs, beyond agreement by industry giants, may pose problems to third-party software developers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of WebSockets

Pros
  • Event-driven protocols instantly make the server respond to client requests without waiting
  • Reduces latency problems via a single, persistent connection
  • Supports full duplex communication
  • Establishes connections faster than HTTP & AJAX
  • Cross-platform compatible
  • Enables responsive web apps
  • Adds rich functionalities to web browsers
  • Reduces unnecessary network traffic
  • Cuts off expensive data loads to servers
Cons
  • Development is not as simple as HTTP
  • Weight of the Protocol
  • Need a complete HTML-compliant web browser to employ WebSockets
  • Does not provide Edge Caching
  • Possibility of cross-site scripting attack
  • Not supported by browsers older than 2011
  • Does not have success mechanisms as AJAX does
  • When connections terminate, WebSockets do not automatically recover them

Can WebRTCs Replace WebSockets?

A Websocket establishes a connection between two browsers (clients) via a web server. When these browsers interact, WebRTCs help sends and receive messages between these browsers without involving the web server that’s mentioned above. 

This delivers a clear message that WebSockets and WebRTCs are two separate entities in the same process. These technologies play unique roles in establishing real-time communication across web apps and browsers. 

The Verdict

From our analysis above, it is clear that WebSockets and WebRTCs cannot be directly compared against each other. However, if we were to question the robustness of both these protocols, it is no doubt that WebRTCs take the winning side for the quality of video communication transfer across devices.

If you are interested in a similar comparison between XMPP and Websockets, we’ve written an article on it – Click Here to Read!!!

Start your 21-Day Free Trial to Try Out All Our Chat Features!

Can WebRTCs Replace WebSockets?

A Websocket establishes a connection between two browsers (clients) via a web server. When these browsers interact, WebRTCs help send and receive messages between these browsers without involving the web server that’s mentioned above. This delivers a clear message that WebSockets and WebRTCs are two separate entities in the same process. These technologies play unique roles in establishing real-time communication across web apps and browsers.

How is WebRTC different from WebSockets for low-level data transmission?

WebRTC is known to offer peer-to-peer (P2P) communication capabilities for mobile and browser apps using the UDP whereas WebSockets establishes a client-server connection with the aid of TCP protocol. And so, WebRTCs are known to be considerably faster than WebSockets. Plus, WebSockets are highly preferred when it comes to data integrity because of the underlying TCP reliability. But in the case of WebRTC, data reliability is a little less.

Is WebSockets really faster than WebRTCs?

No, when it comes to speed and faster delivery of packets, WebRTC makes a stand tall here because all the P2P communication capabilities that it establishes, is done using the UDP protocol. But, when data integrity is a concern then WebSockets are preferred highly. However, WebSockets are faster than HTTP connections.

Which coding language is best for WebRTC and WebSockets?

WebSockets can usually be coded in any server-side programming language like C++, Python, PHP, or server-side JavaScript, but these languages should be capable of Berkeley sockets. Plus, the environment WebSockets can be developed using Java and JMS. In the case of WebRTC, JavaScript is a winner with a huge margin of users using this language. Along with this, WebRTC can be written in C++ too.

Krishi Shivasangaran

Krishi Shivasangaran is a digital nomad and a veteran of Digital Marketing strategies. She is passionate about learning the newest trends in video APIs. And, when she's off-role, she loves to sketch and make people realize the true color of nature.

15 Comments "WebRTC vs WebSockets – Which One is Right for Your Application?"

  1. Nelson says:

    Really great article, which has lots of good information, when someone is in search of Websockets vs WebRTC.

  2. Stevenson says:

    Hey Really happy to say, your post is very interesting to read about WebRTC vs Websockets. You’re doing a great job.

  3. Mani says:

    Very Informative blog! Thank You guys, the article is really helpful. It taught me the comparison of WebRTC vs Websockets. Thank You for sharing your insights.

  4. Faizal says:

    Interesting Articles! Thanks for the sharing I am also looking the comparison of WebRTC vs Websockets. I will pin your post. Thanks

  5. Nilan says:

    Fantastic article. As I would see it, extraordinary compared WebRTC and Websockets Messaging protocols, you make everything so easy to understand. Thank you so much. You speak to the very experienced and the professional.

  6. Nithesh says:

    Very useful information and it is well arranged about WebRTC vs Websocket, so was pretty easy for me to read it. Thanks for the article. Great work!

  7. Pardhu says:

    Hello I want to develop Video calling feaure between Doctor and Patient for both andoid and ios device. Can you please guide how can i integrate MirrorFly in it.

  8. Richard Barquero says:

    I want to use your video API for my ecommerce app. I would like to discuss regrading number of users can join in a group video call, pricing etc. kindly get back to me

  9. Aahfak Kapadiya says:

    Good information about webrtc and websocket to build video chat app. The post is well designed and well written. Full of helpful information.

  10. Kapil Kumar says:

    Great article about WebRTC and Websockets. Need Video API for my ios and android app. Could you please tell us your prices, and do you have any demo.

  11. Akash Patel says:

    Hi, We are looking for a Video API for our video chat app to create a private voice and video calling feature. we are looking for more details on the pricing.

  12. Balaji Srinivas says:

    Thanks for sharing great article I notice that customizability is at the forefront of your chat solution. I would like to chat more about that to see if it right for my use case or not.

  13. Khalifa Ahmad says:

    I think very very detailed article for those who try to build video chat app using WebRTC or Websockets technology. Thank You.

  14. Maxhoba Kewuti says:

    Amazing Article! Thanks for sharing this with me and keep up the good work and very detailed information about WebSocket vs WebRTC.

  15. Farhin says:

    Hi Great article. As I would see it, extraordinary compared WebRTC and WebSockets, you make everything so easy to understand. Thank you so much.

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