Imagine if you only had one shot for a photo or video before it was uploaded to social media. Just snap, then it's automatically uploaded. Unless you're crazy photogenic, that would be a fucking nightmare. Thankfully, that's not the case. Messed up the lighting in this selfie? All right, re-take it five more times, pop in a filter—boom and done. That instant, easy editing process and the ability to re-shoot until your smartphone memory runs out are important to how we've tailored our identities in our social media profiles. But what if we handed over that editing control and showed ourselves in the raw? That, for better or worse, is live-streaming.
Live-streaming isn’t anything new to the Internet: cam-girls make thousands off of streaming, Chatroulette shows us that we're willing to talk to strangers (to a point) in video chat rooms, and Twitch proves that people will stream or watch a stream as long as they have a similar interest, like gaming. But live-streaming outside of Skype and Facetime has been largely untouched when it comes to social networking apps. Instead we have a bunch of video apps that distinguish themselves with audio dubbing features or videos that last just as long as the time it took you to finish reading this sentence. Most live-streaming apps haven't been able to go mainstream (there was Qik for a short time, but it was bought out by Skype) and no mainstream app has really embraced live-streaming outside of a conversation meant for more than two people. But the success of Twitch has shown that the demand is there, and it likely provided a catalyst for live-streaming to break in on smartphones when Meerkat dropped in February. Meerkat quickly became popular, was used by a bunch of celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, and the app showed that live-streaming might have found a spot in mainstream social networking. Then Twitter came and ruined the party.
Within two weeks of Meerkat’s debut, Twitter took away Meerkat's ability to automatically follow people on their Twitter profiles (Meerkat uses Twitter accounts for practically everything). Then Twitter bought the live-streaming app Periscope, and relaunched it under its own brand—with full Twitter integration and a reservoir of millions of potential users ready to crossover, like they did with Vine. The launch happened on the same day that Meerkat announced that the company received $14 million in funding. And just like that—we're off to the races. So, I tried out live-streaming with the two new apps to find out if they were just fads, or if there was some lasting appeal outside of it just being something new in the App Store (Meerkat and Periscope are both only available on iOS as of now). Here's what I found.