The New "It" App Is Already Over

Photo: Courtesy Meerkat.
A number of live-streaming services have come and gone over the years, but the preeminent darling, Meerkat, which launched at the beginning of March, finally turned live-streaming into a social media craze on Twitter’s platform. But, Twitter’s not having any of that: Today, it launched its own live-streaming iOS app, Periscope.

If you haven’t caught on, live video streaming is a thing now. You whip out your phone, press a button in an app, and start broadcasting your beautiful self — or whatever’s happening around you — to whoever wants to watch. It’s voyeurism at its best, but it’s also the future of how smartphone owners can share breaking news and live events.

If you’ve used Meerkat before, Periscope will feel more polished; it also has (slightly) more features. When you create an account, you’re taken to a “Watch” tab that shows you popular streams taking place at the moment, plus streams from people you follow. After watching a live video, you can send the sharer a comment, or a heart to show your approval. When you want to stream a video, you can choose to share your location, make it private (viewable by a select group of friends only) or public, and share the link to Twitter. Like with Meerkat, you start off by writing a brief description of what viewers can expect to see; then, you broadcast. Double-tapping lets you swap between the forward- and rear-facing cameras mid-stream, and you end a video with a downward swipe on the screen. Unlike Meerkat, with its “you snooze, you lose” ideology, Periscope saves videos for replay afterwards and gives you the option to save your stream to your camera roll. 

Interestingly, Periscope isn’t built into Twitter; it’s a standalone app with Twitter integration. Twitter just bought the app, which was in development for a year, in January — for a reported $100 million price tag. The question now is: Will Periscope, with the might of Twitter behind it, send Meerkat to an early grave? 

“They have about two to three weeks ahead of us, and I think in the grand scheme of things, the better product will win,” Twitter’s VP of product, Kevin Weil, told Buzzfeed in an interview.
With Twitter as a distribution platform, this is a brand new space. Let the battle of the video-streaming apps begin. 
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Photo: Courtesy Meerkat.
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