When it comes to interactive web applications, real-time peer-to-peer media exchange and signaling is an essential. Direct exchange technologies have a variety of uses, from simple text-based chats to interactive solutions. One of the most searched questions on the internet is WebRTC Vs WebSockets. This is where this post comes into place. It takes a close look at their principles of work, pros, and cons.

What is the meaning of WebRTC

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) is a collection of technologies and standards that enable real-time communication over the web. WebRTC allows web browsers and other applications to share audio, video, and data in real-time, without the need for plugins or other external software.

WebRTC is built on open standards, such as the RTP and SRTP protocols for audio and video, and the Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) and Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) protocols for security. These standards are supported by most modern web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge, as well as many other applications and devices.

WebRTC enables a wide range of applications, such as video conferencing, peer-to-peer file sharing, real-time gaming, and live streaming. It is often used in combination with other web technologies, such as WebSockets and WebGL, to create rich and interactive experiences in the browser.

What is the meaning of WebSockets

WebSockets is a term that refers to a technology that allows for real-time, bidirectional communication between a web browser and a server over the internet. WebSockets is based on the WebSocket protocol, which defines a standardized way for the browser and the server to exchange messages in real time.

WebSockets is useful for applications that require real-time communication, such as chat or gaming applications, or applications that need to update the user interface in real time, such as stock tickers or live sports scores. With WebSockets, the browser and the server can send and receive messages asynchronously, without the need for the user to refresh the page or request new data from the server. This allows for a more responsive and interactive user experience.

To use WebSockets, the browser and the server must both support the WebSocket protocol. Most modern browsers and web servers support WebSockets, and there are libraries and frameworks available for many different programming languages that make it easy to implement WebSockets in web applications.

The Difference between WebRTC and WebSockets

To better understand the difference between WebRTC and WebSockets, one needs to know their definitions. In the simplest of words, WebRTC is a real-time direct media exchange technology that aims to provide connection to browsers and mobile apps. It is originally an open-source project. Signal indication and synchronization allow for the formation of a connection. The entire process is known as signaling.

A signaling server is necessary for establishing a WebRTC connection between 2 devices. It acts as an intermediary and also helps establish a connection for minimizing the risk of confidential data and valuable information getting leaked. However, it is important to note that the WebRTC specification does not describe what it uses for transmit signaling data.

Although both WebRTC and WebSocket are technologies that deal with communication capabilities, what makes WebSocket is different is that it is a computer communication protocol which allows for data exchange and communication. The combination of WebRTC technology and web communication solution allow modern web applications to exchange video and audio content with a huge user-base in real-time. What sets WebSockets apart is the fact that there is an availability of 2 communication methods rather than just a single TCP connection.

WebSocket in a Nutshell

  • Full-Duplex Connection Stream
  • Receive Event-Driven Responses Without a Reply
  • Asynchronously Send Messages to the Web Server
  • Technology for communication between the server and the browser
  • JSON is also used as container for exchanging data and messages
  • Callback functions for handling incoming messages
  • Dedicated communication protocol known as WS

Key Differences

Now that you have an idea about the two tech concepts, let’s dive deeper into their differences. WebRTC mainly focuses on quick and simple peer-to-peer connections, whereas, WebSocket offers rich web applications. Notable differences between WebRTC and WebSockets are mentioned below.

  • C++, JMS, and Java are used for WebSockets, whereas, WebRTC sticks to HTML and Java.
  • WebRTC tends to be more secure.
  • Only specific browsers support WebRTC at the moment, while, WebSocket is compatible with most browsers.
  • WebRTC is peer-to-peer in terms of scalability in comparison to WebSockets which relies on a server per session approach.

WebSockets are used for connection protocol due to the following reasons.

  • End-to-end software dialogue
  • High performance
  • Interactivity
  • Data transmission in real time

Keep in mind that many of the aspects of the solution may overlap with the capabilities of WebRTC. This makes it easy to get confused. The difference between WebRTC and WebSockets can be better understood by looking at their pros and cons.

Pros of WebRTC

  • High-quality data transmission with video codecs (VP8, H.264) and modern audio (Opus).
  • No software installation is need.
  • Reliability and safety of data as the server would protect the connections through encryption using SRTP and TLS protocols.
  • Audio or video quality adjusts for the digital environment during connection for suppressing noise and echoes.
  • Open-source software to embed WebRTC with the services.
  • Option to implement an interface that has various backend systems.
  • Implementation of unlimited control interface based on JavaScript and HTML5.

The browser has to support WebRTC. It would help ensure that you do not have to spend on software development.

Cons of WebRTC

  • Lack of compatibility as you cannot make calls to WebRTC apps of other developers.
  • A subscription is necessary for mixing conferences.
  • A video conferencing server for video and audio conferences as the browser would be unable to synchronize if there is more than one incoming stream.

Pros of WebSockets

WebSockets have proven to be extremely useful. They are used in mobile, desktop, and web applications. The following advantages of the communication protocol will help you better understand what they have to offer.

  • Cross-communication for creating specific security risks that are required for providing extensive functionality.
  • Continuous connection between the frontend and the backend.
  • Cross-platform compatibility for mobile devices, computer, and web.
  • The option for asynchronous work rather than classic work.
  • A lack of short-term connection for ensuring the connection does not break.

WebSockets were born due to the limitations of HTTP technology. This peer-to-peer protocol involves data that is sent to the client from the server which has to be requested. The fact is that WebSockets enable you to send data using UDP-like WebSockets messages. However, they offer higher TCP reliability. HTTP is used as an initial transport mechanism by WebSocket. It maintains a TCP connection even after an HTTP response is received for later use.

Cons of WebSockets

  • Slow interaction response is one of the cons of the WebSockets. When data is sent to the WebSocket, the results are known just after the timeout. The result is not directly announced by the protocol. It is due to this reason that developers have to run special pings for ensuring a quick response.
  • The possibility of information getting leaked.
  • Security issues that one would face include client-server encryption, possible private data leaks, and processing denial.


WebRTC was initially developed as peer-to-peer technology. This is why most of the developed has focused on the client device. Three main WebRTC architectures include peer-to-peer, selecting forwarding units, and multipoint conferencing units. Each of these has specific characteristics. However, as companies have to deliver data from the server to the client in real-time, WebSockets is commonly used due to its architecture. There are alternatives available. However, you will first need to understand your requirements.