The Media Capture and Streams API, often called the Media Stream API or the Stream API,  is an API related to WebRTC which supports streams of audio or video data, the methods for working with them, the constraints associated with the type of data, the success and error callbacks when using the data asynchronously, and the events that are fired during the process.

Basic concepts

The API is based on the manipulation of a MediaStream object representing a flux of audio- or video-related data. See an example in Get the video.

A MediaStream consists of zero or more MediaStreamTrack objects, representing various audio or video tracks. Each MediaStreamTrack may have one or more channels. The channel represents the smallest unit of a media stream, such as an audio signal associated with a given speaker, like left or right in a stereo audio track.

MediaStream objects have a single input and a single output. A MediaStream object generated by getUserMedia() is called local, and has as its source input one of the user's cameras or microphones. A non-local MediaStream may be representing to a media element, like <video> or <audio>, a stream originating over the network, and obtained via the WebRTC RTCPeerConnection API, or a stream created using the Web Audio API MediaStreamAudioSourceNode.   The output of the MediaStream object is linked to a consumer. It can be a media elements, like <audio> or <video>,  the WebRTC RTCPeerConnection API or a Web Audio API MediaStreamAudioDestinationNode.


Guides and tutorials

Capabilities, constraints, and settings
The twin concepts of constraints and capabilities let the browser and Web site or app exchange information about what constrainable properties the browser's implementation supports and what values it supports for each one. This article discusses capabilities and constraints, as well as media settings, and includes an example we call the Constraint Exerciser.

Browser compatibility

We're converting our compatibility data into a machine-readable JSON format. This compatibility table still uses the old format, because we haven't yet converted the data it contains. Find out how you can help!


Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Edge Internet Explorer Opera  Safari (WebKit)
Stream API  21webkit  Nightly 18moz  (Yes) ?  12 11
Feature Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Phone Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Stream API  No support  (Yes) ? ?  No support  11.2

Currently using WebRTC for accessing the camera is supported in Chrome, Opera and Firefox Nightly 18. Enabling WebRTC in Firefox Nightly requires you to set a flag in the configuration:

  • Type "about:config" in the address bar and say yes that you want to make changes
  • Find the "media.navigator.enabled" entry and set it to true

See also