March 26, 2015 Last Updated 1:28 pm

Twitter launches its own live video streaming app, Periscope

Periscope, which streams live video to your Twitter feed, launches a couple weeks after competitor Meerkat entered the App Store

Back in the very early says of TNM, back in Blogger days, one of the first posts to appear talked about UStream, the live video streaming service which was just catching on. The service was a bit clunky, and the quality of the streams iffy, but it was being used to document the Arab Spring, as well as other events around the world.

The next, logical step in the evolution of video streaming is sharing through social networks. Apps such as Meerkat – Tweet Live Video are not household names, but the company is hot enough that the company just raised a $12 million dollar round of funding at a valuation of $52 million. Whether the investors, Greylock Partners, knew about Periscope or not is a good question (they should have, Periscope has been in development for longer).

Periscope-iPhone-lgPeriscope is the new app from Twitter, released just today, that allows users (like Meerkat) to tweet live video to followers.

The new app allows the user to do some useful things such as tweet video to a select group of people (like one person) or your entire Twitter feed; you can have replays – useful for shooting the video and sending it to one person to review, then replaying it for your whole feed.

Assuming the quality is up to snuff, I could see this being incredibly useful for newsrooms, with reporters reporting back to editors at an event, for instance.

Update: Periscope turned off all notifications late this morning (Pacific time) due to complaints of the number of notifications sent. At first they recommended turning them off for those times someone new followed the user. But now they have turned them all off. Look for an app update to modify the notifications.

Yes, its real purpose is what might be called social broadcasting, but in the right hands it may have many other uses. (The Verge and some other tech writers are already using Periscope to stream video to Twitter followers, though the quality of much of these early video stream is a bit wanting.)

But what about the other apps (read: Meerkat) doing the same thing? They aren’t owned by Twitter.

BuzzFeed thinks Meerkat has an advantage because it was first to market. But, really? It was only launched on February 21!

If you aren’t familiar with Meerkat, or have not downloaded Periscope, beware, the app can be a bit creepy. For instance, Joe, how was your trip to the dentist today? (I didn’t know Joe even followed me, but because I am part of his Twitter feed I got to see his video this morning.)

Periscope-heartsIf you activate push notifications on the app you will get instantly notified when someone has started a live stream. I’ve already noticed that Periscope may have capacity issues as the very first stream told me that the system was overloaded. That could be a problem very quickly if the app catches on.

“Just over a year ago, we became fascinated by the idea of discovering the world through someone else’s eyes,” the company wrote in announcing the launch of the app on Medium. “What if you could see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Or watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia? It may sound crazy, but we wanted to build the closest thing to teleportation.”

Periscope feels far more polished than Meerkat, and has little, cute features like the hearts that viewers give a live stream – the equivalent of a “thumbs-up” or “like”. I find that a waste, but I bet people will like it.

Look for TNM’s first live stream of me making a cup of coffee, brushing my teeth, and… you know, I think I’ll wait before streaming any video.


Here is the app description in full, which does a good job of letting potential users know of its features:

Description
Periscope lets you broadcast live video to the world. Going live will instantly notify your followers who can join, comment and send you hearts in real time. The more hearts you get, the higher they flutter on the screen.

Other features:
[+] REPLAY: When your broadcast is over, you can make it available for replay so viewers can watch later. Viewers can replay your broadcast with comments and hearts to relive the full experience. Replays currently last 24 hours. You can delete your replay at any time.
[+] PRIVATE: If you want to broadcast to specific people, press the lock icon before going live and choose who you want to invite to your broadcast.
[+] TWITTER: You can choose to share your Periscope broadcasts on Twitter by tapping the bird icon before you start broadcasting. When you go live, you’ll tweet a link so that your Twitter followers can watch on the web (or in the app)
[+] MANAGE NOTIFICATIONS: Periscope will suggest people for you to follow based on your Twitter network. You can always follow new people, or unfollow them if you don’t want to be notified when they go live. You can also adjust notification preferences in Periscope Settings (in Profile)
[+] HEARTS: Periscope keeps track of how many hearts you get from your viewers. The more hearts, the higher you get in the “Most Loved” list.

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