Only days ago, Twitter reportedly blocked the Meerkat app, a video-streaming service which banked heavily on the social network. On Thursday, Twitter set in motion Periscope, a video-streaming app of its own.
Since the launch of Meerkat last month, the app, which allows for the streaming of videos – but only once, has been extremely popular, and counts among its users The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon. While mega-popular, users soon discovered an annoying feature of Meerkat. By the time a user sees a link to a live feed and clicks on it, the link has usually stopped functioning. Even so, each day Meerkat has been up, its user base has grown 30 percent. In fact, the same day that Twitter launched Periscope, Meerkat revealed the companies which have invested in the their app. Among the names on the list were Greylock Partners, venture capitalists from Silicon Valley, and Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures fund. The latest funding efforts are thought to have collected millions of dollars for the app.
Twitter has owned Vine, a service for sharing videos, since 2012. Apple’s iTunes store lists Vine as one of its most popular offerings. The company, which is known for allowing only messages of 140 characters to be posted, has been working since the purchase of Vine to grow into being able to share interactive content, videos and pictures. Vine allows Twitter users to tweet videos, but restricts their length to six seconds.
A blog posted by Twitter revealed that it purchased Periscope in January for $100 million. Twitter’s app is notably different from Meerkat in that Periscope’s users can save videos for later playback, which means that while live feed on anything can be shared on both apps, only Periscope allows these feeds to be saved so they can be replayed later. In addition, because Periscope was built over a time frame of over a year, its features and details are inherently more advanced than Meerkat, which was rushed to market in just eight weeks.
Twitter users who download the Periscope app will be able to view a list of live streams when signing in with their Twitter sign-in information. In addition to the live streams available for viewing, another list featuring recent streams will be displayed. It is an easy process to prevent one’s own live stream from being replayed, and requires just one tap of the finger, so not all of the feeds will be able to be replayed. However, the videos default to save, and the app can be used to browse through streams, unlike Meerkat, which was blocked by Twitter shortly before Thursday’s announcement.
Periscope also introduces what is sure to become as familiar a concept to people around the world as the Facebook “like.” While watching a stream, if the viewer likes what is seen, a simple tap of the screen will send the person streaming a heart. Once sent, the heart shows up on the screen and is visible for the entire audience of that video as well as the person recording, in such a way that if the video of a sleeping cat which the owner finds adorable and must share does not receive any hearts, perhaps the streamer will be disheartened enough to stop the feed. On the other hand, the footage of breaking news which receives a barrage of hearts will tell the streamer that the audience wants the stream to continue.
According to Twitter, Periscope is now available for purchase on Apple devices from the App Store. An app for Android is also being developed. Since the announcement that Twitter has gone live with its own video-streaming app after blocking Meerkat, the social network’s shares rose by 2 percent.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Image by Magnus Franklin – Flickr License