The latest trend in mobile apps is live streaming. Open your app, and you’re almost instantly broadcasting to people around the globe. You could be answering questions, doing how-to shows, or simply chatting to whoever’s around. Whatever you’re using them for, they’re certainly popular.
The two apps competing for live streamers’ attention are Meerkat and Periscope. Meerkat was the first on the scene, launching in March this year, finding popularity on Twitter and at the SXSW festival. Twitter, meanwhile, bought competitors Periscope and cut off support for Meerkat, giving the owners only two hours notice in doing so. Both apps are now competing to be the go to live streaming app.
Both apps aim to be a window on the world, showing what’s happening for users everywhere, in real time. Live streaming has struggled to find an audience in the past, but the combination of faster internet speeds and changing attitudes towards sharing personal info online have opened the door for apps like Periscope and Meerkat. There’s even been celebrity adopters, with Jimmy Fallon and Jeb Bush using Meerkat, and people like Tyra Banks and Shonda Rhimes using Periscope.
What’s different about these apps, though? People are more than willing to share their lives online these days. There’s the obvious examples of Facebook and Twitter, but in video terms, there’s Youtube and Vine. If you want to take video of yourself and share it online, there are plenty of options to do so.
The difference with live streaming though, is that it’s, well, live. You can watch events happen in real time, taking part in the conversation and seeing developments as they happen. The best example is the recent explosion in New York City’s East Village. When it happened, social media predictably lit up with commentary on the event. This time, however, Periscope and Meerkat users were able to broadcast the fire in real time, keeping their followers updated on what was happening.
So there’s certainly a market for live streaming apps, but which one should you choose? Many reporters are claiming that Periscope is coming out the winner right now, but in the world of technology things can change in a heartbeat.
Meerkat came out first, and received lots of praise in the media as the ‘hot new thing’. It had Twitter support until Twitter pulled it, following their Periscope purchase. Since the loss of that support, developers have got around this by giving their users lists of People You May Know, and a leaderboard of popular users. It automatically tweets a link to your stream once you start broadcasting, and users are given the option to save the stream once they’re done.
Periscope, meanwhile, can list people you know on Twitter under their People tab, as well as a list of Most Loved broadcasters. You have to actively opt into sharing via social media, and all broadcasts are automatically saved for 24 hours.
With the differences being so miniscule, both apps will probably rely on support from other parties, such as Twitter, and their celebrity users. They’re both very new on the market too, so their continued popularity will come from firstly an expansion onto the Google Play Store, and from future updates and tweaks.