Twitter live video broadcasting is a squall inside an ocean of social media activity, and bobbing frantically in the middle of it like a shiny buoy is Meerkat, the little video-streaming app that could. Social media users are flocking to its bright beacon. It is the app and the social activity of the moment.

But slicing through the waves and headed right toward it is Periscope. It, too, is a live video streaming app. Like Meerkat, it’s connected to Twitter. However that connection is deeper because, for all intents and purposes, Twitter is the submarine just below the surface the ocean that Periscope is connected to.

It’s likely that, if Meerkat had not exploded the way it did, Twitter might have kept its Periscope app (free in the App Store starting Thursday) below the surface for a while longer, but now any delay could spell disaster for Twitter’s live video streaming plans. Meerkat’s undeniable popularity and reportedly explosive growth had to be cause for concern in the halls of Twitter. The micro-blogging social media giant bought Periscope just weeks ago, mere days before Meerkat went from unknown to the app everyone from Jimmy Fallon to Gary Vaynerchuk to Al Roker is using.


The personal broadcasting app Periscope makes setup easy (left). You just have to let it use your camera, mic and, if you choose, location. On the right is the home screen with available live broadcasts and archived ones below.

Periscope performs virtually the same function as Meerkat. It’s a platform for streaming live video from your iPhone from virtually anywhere in the world — where there’s connectivity. It tracks viewers, comments and even adds the ability to “heart” video streams you like (or love).

Twitter gave me early access the new app, but didn’t turn on full Twitter integration — I could sign in with my Twitter account, but that was it — so the experience felt a bit limited.

Periscope is a smartly designed and easy to use. It employs swipes and gestures for navigation and features, which in combination with the design, makes the app feel more polished than Meerkat.

Periscope tries to guide you on who to follow (left). In the early days, there were more archived broadcasts than live ones (right).

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