Much like Meerkat, Periscope is an iOS app for your phone or tablet that integrates with your Twitter account. When you start a stream you send a tweet to inform your followers, who can click the link to watch it from their browser on any device, or if they have the app, from within the app on their smartphone or tablet. An Android app is reportedly in development.
A broadcaster can start streaming with just a click and, like Meerkat, can see how many people are joining and any comments that they make during the broadcast. Viewers can click the screen to send hearts when they like what they’re seeing and, unlike Meerkat, Periscope allows broadcasters to archive videos so that anyone that missed the stream can watch the replay later. On the other hand, the Meerkat interface feels cleaner and has clearly been optimized for tablets while Periscope is clearly an iPhone first app.
In our brief testing in the ITWC offices, we were impressed with the ease of use but disappointed that, at least when watching from the desktop, Periscope didn’t seem to support widescreen video when shooting with the iPad help horizontally. This is a major annoyance and should be easy enough to rectify.
The developers of periscope claim a higher calling than streaming tours of a newsroom – the website references being able to witness and broadcast breaking news, from a fire in San Francisco to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. And like most social media, it’s potential to drive openness in closed societies where the media is controlled and censored is obvious.
Twitter acquired Periscope before the app even launched for a reported purchase price of over $100 million. Meanwhile, Meerkat isn’t standing still. On Thursday Meerkat announced US$14 million in funding from high-profile Silicon Valley venture capitalists, as well as actor Ashton Kutcher and Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels.
It appears the live video streaming wars are well underway.