Both apps offer quick and easy ways to broadcast a live video feed from your i Phone (both are i OS only, for now) publicly to a global audience.
Both let you swiftly switch between the front-facing and rear-facing “selfie” camera to show your expressions or give a Darren Aronofsky-style sense of intensity to your movements.
There are two reasons to think it and Meerkat will be popular for longer than their ill-fated forbear.
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At one point, one of them began using a Zippo lighter to ignite a cloud of aerosol spray, the tried-and-true method of creating a tiny flamethrower, which subsequently set off some kind of beeping smoke alarm in their apartment.
You can broadcast for almost as long as you would ever like (within the limits of your phone’s data plan) and can read and respond to viewer comments in real time, creating a powerful sense of intimacy and immediate two-way feedback between audience and broadcaster.
Both apps broadcast their videos publicly by default, including a live web view that lets even those without the app watch, and Periscope stores a public replay for your video for 24 hours.
The young men were completely unabashed in sharing their illegal and debaucherous activity with us and over a hundred other audience members.
We didn’t see all this happen right in front of us, I should clarify, but we might as well have.
For those of us that remember Chatroulette, the randomized video chat website that was briefly popular half a decade ago, these livestreaming apps may carry a sense of deja-vu, dropping you instantly into the life of some rando, one who may or may or not flash you his genitalia.
But in my experience, Periscope has been much more fun and varied than Chatroulette.
We were part of an international audience watching a broadcast on Periscope, a livestreaming video app released last month by Twitter.
Periscope and its predecessor Meerkat, another rival streaming app released recently, have quickly gained the attention of many tech bloggers, and it’s easy to understand why, even including more mundane broadcasts than the one I described above.
Interestingly, Meerkat chose to use Twitter for its login and comments system, yet is made by the rival, dystopian-sounding company “ Life On Air, Inc.” Both apps thrive on the immediacy that Twitter offers, and highlight live video broadcasts from the people you follow on Twitter, but importantly, they also surface quasi-random live video feeds from broadcasters around the globe.
Meerkat calls this “Community Picks,” suggesting that it surfaces video based on popularity, while Periscope offers a seemingly more random list of new broadcasts under the label “Watch." I’ve been using Periscope almost daily in the two weeks it’s been available, mainly as a viewer, and I’ve been alternatingly intrigued, amused, shocked, and dismayed by what I’ve seen.