This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.
Live streaming is all the rage right now, a few weeks ago Meerkat launched and was an instant hit with people streaming walks to roller coaster rides and journeys in their car. Meerkat soon had their API’s limited and access to the social graph on Twitter restricted as the social network looked to launch their own live streaming service. We should be clear that this was not a case of Twitter seeing what Meerkat had done and deciding to rush out and buy their own platform and develop it for themselves.
It has been common knowledge recently that Twitter has been looking into a live streaming service so Meerkat simply forced their hand and this week Periscope was launched. Unlike Meerkat, Periscope of course has access to the social graph so this means that you see a list of suggested users to follow when you sign up which makes it easier to find people.
I have played around with a number of live streaming apps in the past however this is without doubt the best one yet. It feels like a shift in what we perceive cameras to be in public, in the past people have been quite guarded to being recorded in public however in the time I have been using the app I have been on a walk through New York, been inside a London Underground Station, watched a magic show in Covent Garden and watch Aaron Paul annoy his wife and show off his fridge which mostly appears to be alcohol and I approve of that.
In all of these cases people seem keen to talk back and interact with the audience. I have always been somewhat skeptical of video content and how I may be perceived however I needed to try the entire app so I could write an article on it and decided to live stream by 8 month old beardie, Lola for a few minutes.
I found the experience oddly addictive and initially I planned on saying nothing, just letting the camera roll however quickly questions started to roll in and I wanted to answer them, so answer them I did and after about 30 seconds I felt oddly comfortable and at ease because people were interacting.
So what is it about Periscope that has such a high level of appeal? I admit that I am not a Meerkat fan and that comes down to the UI. Meerkat does the job well however when you look at the UI on Periscope, their designers are clearly in a different league (no offence to Meerkat) and the app looks stunning.
On the main screen of the app you see some featured broadcasts at the top and then underneath a list of broadcasts going on at that moment in time. Scroll further down and you can watch recent broadcasts which have ended from people you follow. You get a push notification when someone who you follow starts streaming and when someone invites you to watch a broadcast.
With the app being so fresh these notifications are bound to be pretty frequent if not annoying so it might be a good idea to switch them off until things settle down a bit. When you start viewing a broadcast you see the conversation flow on the screen, the broadcaster and other commenters can see the conversation on their device in real time.
One thing I really like about the commenting is that the comments don’t take up a large space on the screen and stay there for just enough time to be noticed but not too long, that means if you get somebody posting something negative or rude it will be buried fast. You can hide the chat if you wish or you can also block someone who is being offensive.
Probably the nicest thing when broadcasting though is the hearts that people can send broadcasters during a live stream. By tapping on the screen you see a heart appear, one tap will give one heart and you can tap as much as you like. When you are broadcasting it is great to see hearts going up the screen because you know that people are liking what you are showing them and it encourages you to continue and do more.
When you watch a feed back you will see the hearts and comments appear just like they did at the time, of course you can’t add comments but it appears that you can add hearts if you are enjoying watching the recording at a later time.
Broadcasting is simple, you allow access to the camera, microphone and location first (you can hide the location before broadcasting if you wish) You can choose to broadcast publicly or privately to your followers only and when you are ready you simply hit the ‘start broadcast’ button. Periscope uses gesture based motion as its primary control input, you can double tap the screen to switch between front facing and rear facing cameras and simply pull down from the top of the screen if you want to end your broadcast.
When you finish a broadcast, it will automatically upload to Periscope, now this is something I am not keen on because it could have a negative impact on your data allowance. I would prefer a way of having the broadcast stored on the app and then upload only when I am connected to a WiFi network. You can also have the footage save to your camera roll or if you live stream something you didn’t mean to then you can delete it forever.
There is privacy questions to be raised from this though, people have no idea you are live streaming unless you actually tell them, so when you are out in public you can live stream people and they would have no idea about it and one would have to think if that will raise problems down the line with members of the public not keen on the idea of everything being live available then and there.
Ben Rubin, Meerkat’s CEO and co-founder, told Engadget that he finds Periscope to be a pretty sleek app and doesn’t think of it in a negative light. “It means good things for livestreaming,” he says. “We don’t look at it as a rivalry. We just have a different approach.” If anything, he adds, Periscope will spread the word of livestreaming even more than before, which could be good for Meerkat too.
There is no doubt that Periscope is the much sleeker of the two at the moment. There are a lot of improvements to be made such as support for landscape mode to come. You are not able to type comments into the chat as a broadcaster, the idea is that you talk to your audience however it is unclear if there are plans to include text input as a broadcaster down the line.
At the moment Periscope is iOS only, sorry Android users you have been left out in the cold for now. However Periscope has been addressing that on their Twitter page and they say that Android support is coming soon. No mention of Windows Phone support at present. Is live streaming something you are interested in? There is no doubt that content is getting more and more video based, live streaming appears to be the next step.
About The Author
Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis, he is also a proud father of his bearded dragon, Lola. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here. Or you can drop Mark an email at, [email protected]