Earlier this month, it was revealed that Twitter bought Periscope, a startup making a live streaming video app that had yet to launch. Now, Twitter has officially launched the app, which is a direct competitor to another new app that has quickly gained some traction - Meerkat.
For now, Periscope is only available for iOS, and is currently available in the Apple App Store. Twitter does say an Android app is in the works, but doesn't give a timetable on when we might see that. Given how much has been made of the competition between Periscope and Meerkat in the tech media, they're probably going to want to get it out as soon as possible. Meerkat is also iOS-only at the moment.
What's it do?
Twitter put up a brief post on its main company blog, saying, "Today, we’re excited to introduce Periscope, a new app that lets you share and experience live video from your mobile phone. We think it’s a perfect complement to Twitter, which is why we acquired the company in January."
The Periscope team itself wrote about the launch on Medium. There, it touts the app as "the best way to share and watch live video broadcasts from your mobile phone."
Live streaming video is obviously nothing new, but the following quote from Periscope kind of puts into perspective what they're trying to do with the medium, and why it's a perfect fit for Twitter:
Just over a year ago, we became fascinated by the idea of discovering the world through someone else’s eyes. 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. While there are many ways to discover events and places, we realized there is no better way to experience a place right now than through live video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around.
For broadcasters, Periscope lets you share an experience with others. Press a button, and instantly notify your followers that you’re live. Whether you’re witnessing your daughter’s first steps or a newsworthy event, Periscope offers an audience and the power of a shared experience. Most mobile broadcasting tools feel far from live. Broadcasters on Periscope are directly connected to their audience, able to feel their presence and interact. Going live on Periscope means more than a blinking red dot.
It's easy to imagine the app being used in conflicts and disasters, giving a better glimpse into what is really going on in real time. I can see this being of use in severe weather conditions or for seeing road conditions in real time in the winter, for example.
"What excites us most about Periscope is the power of seeing something for yourself," Periscope says in the Medium post. "We watched someone rise above the Sonoma valley in a hot air balloon; we witnessed 'Hands Up Don’t Shoot' directly from Ferguson, Missouri, a terrifying fire that erupted in San Francisco’s Mission district and a live performance from a pianist who played any song requested from the audience."
How to use it
To broadcast from the app, once you've created an account, tap the camera icon, and enter a title for the broadcast. It will instantly notify your followers who can join, comment, and send you hearts in real time (sending hearts is how viewers "send their love").
The app keeps track of your hearts. There's a "Most Loved" list, so the more hearts you get, the higher you'll be on that. I guess iPhone users have a leg up in that department.
When a broadcast is over, the broadcaster can make it available for replay so people can watch it later. They'll be able to replay it with comments, hearts, and all. The replays last 24 hours, and they can be deleted at any time. You can do private broadcasts by pressing the lock icon before going live. You can then choose who you want to broadcast to. You can also manage your location settings before broadcasting.
If you want to keep a broadcast longer than 24 hours, you can save it to your camera roll. There's even a setting to automatically save all your broadcasts to your camera roll.
Broadcasts can be shared on Twitter by tapping the bird icon before broadcasting. When it goes live, it will tweet a link so Twitter followers can watch on the web or in the app.
Periscope suggests people for users to follow based on their Twitter network, and gives them control over who they want to be notified about broadcasts for.
If you tap the TV icon in the app, you'll get the Watch Tab, where you can see live broadcasts of public video streams. It will show you recently featured broadcasts and those from people you follow. There's also a "View All Recent Broadcasts" option, where you can see all public broadcasts from the past 24 hours. Who knows what you'll find there? It does only surface those that were saved for replay. You can share broadcasts you find with other people as well.
How not to use it
There are some content guidelines that restrict porn or "overtly sexual content" as well as "explicitly graphic content or media intended to incite violent, illegal or dangerous activities."
Other Do Nots include: abuse, harass, post others' private info, impersonate to mislead or deceive, and spam. Things that qualify as spam include: malware/phishing, serial accounts, selling accounts, invitation spam, and broadcast spam. These are the ways they define broadcast spam:
- Broadcasting for the sole purpose of directing users to an external site or service
- Posting deliberately misleading broadcast titles, especially with the intent to redirect the viewer to an external site or service
- Purchasing ‘hearts’ or paying to have a broadcast ‘shared’ to increase the popularity of the content
- Using serial accounts to auto ‘share’ broadcasts to increase popularity
- Posting large numbers of unsolicited comments, especially in an attempt to advertise a service or link
- Using or promoting third-party sites or services that claim to get you more followers
"Have fun, and be decent to one another," the guidelines say. "Periscope reserves the right to allow sensitive content when it is artistic, educational, scientific or newsworthy. Please remember that Periscope is not to be used for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities."
Periscope does indicate that parody is fine as long as it's clearly labeled, which pretty much reflect's Twitter's own policy.
The only way to sign up for Periscope is with a Twitter account, though the company says it is working on other ways to log in.
Clearly, 2015 is the year of video for Twitter. In addition to this new service, which provides another option in addition to native Twitter video and Vine, Twitter is testing autoplay videos, and is likely looking to grab a piece of that video marketing pie Facebook has been gobbling up over the past year.
Images via Periscope, App Store