Twitter’s New Periscope Live Streaming App
Twitter has launched a free spin off app that allows users to record and view live streaming audio and videos of themselves and their surroundings.
In order to stream from their phone camera, users need just download the app, sign in with a Twitter account and follow the instructions to start recording their own video. A link to the live stream video can then be automatically tweeted, encouraging others to click and view, plus comment and show their appreciation for a video by sending a heart. Users can download their video to upload through another service such as YouTube or make the video available for others to replay for 24 hours.
Viewers don’t need a Periscope account to view live streams for which they have a link, and they can be viewed on a computer’s web browser as well as a smartphone. The video feeds have a small live chat window that viewers can use to comment on what’s happening in the video or discuss their opinions with others.
Using the Periscope app itself you can view live and recently ended video streams from others that have been made public so you can discover new content in addition to clicking on links to view specific streams. You’re able to follow users that you know or like in order to receive notifications and keep up to date with their streams. There is also a ‘Most Loved’ list that shows the most popular Periscope users, based on the amount of hearts their live streams have received.
Periscope is very similar to an app launched earlier this year called Meerkat in which users are also able to live stream through their phones and can even schedule future live videos, but the videos are deleted as soon as the stream ends. Periscope has been in development for longer than Meerkat, and was developed by a startup which Twitter acquired in January. Twitter had blocked Meerkat from using it’s social graph in order to suggest to users the people they may want to follow based on who they’re following on Twitter, and it has now become apparent that the company wanted to keep that feature all for itself to use in the new Periscope app.
Further new live streaming apps are rumoured to be in the pipeline for launch by other companies, fueled by improving 3G and 4G signals plus affordable smartphone controls, but it is unclear exactly what purpose the apps serve.
One possibility is the use of live streaming apps for breaking news and current events, as demonstrated by the explosions in New York’s East Village on Thursday afternoon, during which live streaming footage of the aftermath appeared via Periscope before the media had even arrived. This means that breaking news can be watched in real time by viewers via Periscope.
It has also been suggested that Periscope is likely to be adopted by the new generation of YouTube stars and social influencers who can use the real-time nature of the app to host live videos such as impromptu Q&As with their followers. But there is little to suggest why the app would be used by most of us who don’t have massive followings and rarely witness major events.
Periscope has preempted some of its possible difficulties, for example pornography will not be allowed (although nudity itself will), but the issue of copyright has not yet clearly been addressed. Users will undoubtedly try to stream music, TV shows, concerts and large sports games through the app, but how Periscope will deal with these acts is yet unknown, especially as the company only has 10 full time workers.
Currently the majority of live streams are from new users testing the app out, and it seems like this will continue for a while as Periscope is still very new to the app market. While there is definitely a market for celebrities, influencers and users who are first on the scene at sites of major news to utilise the app, the average person will probably have less success. Live streaming your cat or your son’s Sunday football game, for example, is unlikely to garner much enthusiasm from your Twitter followers. For that reason the majority of us are likely to use the app just to follow people who we already follow on other social channels, and probably never initiate a live video ourselves.
Periscope is currently free for iOS via the App Store and an Android app will follow shortly.