Apps & Software

Twitter’s livestreaming app Periscope is fun and well-designed


You’ve probably heard of the livestreaming app, Meerkat. It debuted for iOS a few months ago and took the internet — particularly Twitter — by storm for a few weeks until Twitter choked its access to the firehose stream that was so essential to its success.

Twitter didn’t do that because Meerkat was sending too many notifications to Twitter users — though it was annoying. No, it made the business decision to block Meerkat’s access to the Twitter stream because it had its own livestreaming app in the works, Periscope, a company it purchased in January for an undisclosed sum (though $100 million was the rumoured amount).

With Periscope debuting today, it’s important to point out that Meerkat feels very rough and unfinished in comparison. Meerkat doesn’t allow users to line up shots before shooting, or save videos for viewing later. Periscope took its extra incubation period to design an app that not only fits in with parent company Twitter’s overall aesthetic, but lives on its own as a thoughtfully product that is a lot of fun to use.


Livestreaming as a concept is not new — Ustream, Livestream (the company) and Twitch have been doing it for some time — but when Meerkat debuted, it was the direct funnel into Twitter that kept it afloat. Periscope does the same thing, and has the potential to be even more successful for longer thanks to its big-business lineage.

Periscope allows users to begin livestreaming over cellular or WiFi — preferably the latter, since it uses a lot of bandwidth — and field questions from an audience in an overlay. Viewers can engage with the streamer by commenting or tapping on the screen to create little heart bubbles that float away into nothingness. It’s a cute, ephemeral interaction that will appeal to younger crowds, but the beauty of Periscope, and its advantage over Meerkat, at least for the foreseeable future, is that it allows users to save videos, both locally and to the cloud, for later viewing.

The quality is pretty good, but it appears that video can only be captured in portrait orientation.

Like many new products, Periscope is only available on iOS at the moment, and the company won’t comment when an Android version is coming (though it is coming). To be fair, though, Meerkat has the same problem.

My favourite Periscope so far was watching Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield signing books. It’s just — he’s such a nice guy.

[source] Periscope [/source]