Twitter continues to tweak Periscope, attempting to make content more relevant to users

App update adds ‘Global’ section for those who want to view video streams from around the world, leaving the app’s users home page for only those they follow

The streaming video social app Periscope was updated today by Twitter. The update is about making the app more social, more relevant for users. The technical part, getting streams to work, has proved to be easy part, compared to delivering streams users actually want to watch.

While tech reporters went wild for Meerkat, then Periscope, actual users are finding a novelty factor in the new apps, but are increasingly wondering if, once the novelty has worn off, that they will really continue using the apps?

Periscope-broadcastWhat many users are finding is that the live streams have the same issue as new apps: discoverability.

“The app was great for the first few days,” wrote one user in iTunes. “Really a lot of fund and worked well. Beautiful design for chatting/hearts, etc. However, after a few days I noticed that I started getting 0 viewers no matter what. My follows can see that I’m broadcasting, but it really seems like my broadcast isn’t being advertised to ANYONE on the main screen, hence, no one other than my followers know that my live stream exists.”

Like the Newsstand, what users are learning is that with Periscope you need an audience BEFORE you broadcast. The app isn’t really designed to build your audience. Conversely, many users wondered why they were being presented with broadcasts from people they didn’t know. In other words, is Periscope designed as a personal social tool, or a public social tool – Twitter wants both, but will need to continue to tweak their app to satisfy both groups.

That is partially what today’s update is about. By organizing the streams differently, they can let those users who want to explore streams do so, while allowing users who prefer a closed system the ability to limit the content to they follow, and those that follow them.

What’s New in Version 1.0.2

  • New ‘Global’ section added to Periscope that lists the most recent, live broadcasts from around the world. Your home feed will only show live broadcasts and replays tailored to you.
  • A new “Follower Only” mode is available before starting your broadcast. If you turn this on, only viewers that YOU follow can comment in your broadcast.
  • Users who are verified are marked by the classic Twitter Verified badge you’re used to seeing.
  • Major scrolling performance improvements. This will feel silky and smooth compared to the last version!
  • You can block users more easily (tap on a comment to present the option to block)
  • Fixed a bug where viewers & broadcasters would sometimes stop seeing comments and hearts.
  • Fixed a caching issue where the wrong Profile image would get displayed for a user
  • Fixed a bug where some iOS 7 users couldn’t watch broadcasts with kajillions of viewers

The other discovery many users are making is that the vast majority of streams are of no interest, or very poorly shot. Videos of people the sidewalk as users walk to Starbucks is hardly gripping entertainment.

But even potentially interesting videos sometimes prove disappointing.

Liz Castro, the author and eBook publishing pro, did a tour of Barcelona via Periscope. Shooting outside her car, Liz showed viewers some of the architectural marvels of the city. But a moving camera, many videographers know, leads to pixelation at low resolution. The result was a screen of large blocks that made viewing the buildings impossible (it was a very nice experiment, though – thanks Liz for trying).

I’m not betting against Twitter being able to work out both the technical bugs and the design flaws in their app, though. The potential seems huge for Periscope, which is why so many tech writers have been obsessed with app, and Meerkat before it.

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