Live Streaming Apps -- Atticus Finch's Dream is Realized!


I have to admit it: I'm addicted to live streaming apps. I just think it's one of the great marvels of the last few years that we can all kick back with our smart phones and see the world through someone else's eyes -- walk in their skin, if you will. That was Atticus Finch's dream, right?


I know, I know. A lot of people I proselytize to about live streaming start-ups see it as more of a leap toward Orwell, Big Brother, and even Brian De Palma voyeurism, rather than an enticement of our empathy for other contestants in the human race. They also state, in no uncertain terms, that when we open our world up to just anyone, we are only enforcing that old conspiracy cliche that the Suits in the High Tower will not force submission on us, but that we will instead gleefully, happily, leave the door open for them to just step on in and see what we're up to.  Maybe so. 

But at the same time, it's just a lot of fun!

I've been enjoying Periscope, the most talked-about live streaming app on the market, for the last couple weeks on my new phone, an LG G4, and I've had a great time not just making my own broadcasts and interacting with people who drop in, but also checking out other folks' lives around the world. Whether it's stopping by a house party in the UK or taking a road trip on a snowy November day through Colorado, Periscope comes in just short of the Star Trek Holodeck when it comes to simulating real-life, instantaneous teleportation.

While live broadcasts are not new, this kind of mass market Livestreaming for the general public is a relatively new phenomenon. Periscope and its rival app, Meerkat, have only been around since this past Spring. So a lot of folks I talk to about it -- maybe even you -- are unfamiliar with what it is and how it works. So here are a few frequent FAQs I've gotten:

Who can Livestream? Anyone with a smartphone, and with some apps, a computer. No credentials required -- just download the app, approve its request to use your camera and microphone in real time, and you're in business.

How do people watch it? Twitter just acquired Periscope for a little shy of $100 million, so every time you do a broadcast, you can tap a native button to share it with any of your followers, who can in turn re-tweet and share your feed. Viewers may also have the option to follow you in the app, and every time you broadcast, they will get an alert on their device to tune in. My favorite feature of Periscope is a map of the World that you can freely zoom in-and-out of(like Google Earth) to zero in on broadcasters, even if they are not in your network. 

Can I block viewers? The most critical review of Periscope is the in-stream comment scroll. As viewers watch you, they can interact in real time, which, in theory, is a great way for you to answer questions and tweak your broadcast to match what your audience wants. Sadly, however, it's often used by hollow-headed basement cases the world over to trash you. The good thing is that you can block these eggheads the second they throw out hate speech. So that's good.

Are my broadcasts saved? Once you finish a stream on Periscope, it will be saved in their database for a day before it's deleted. In theory, you have the option to save broadcasts to your device. I have used Meerkat a couple of times, but neither stream was saved. Periscope does a better job, with the option to save a stream to your camera just like you would a picture. However, some broadcasts I've done on Periscope did not save even though I elected the option. I'm not sure why they were deleted, but it may have had something to do with shaky Wifi. It would be nice if Periscope could resolve this issue, because as a podcaster who likes to do occasional video content, I see a lot of value in using it to produce Video Asides for my YouTube channel. For now, though, I'm not counting on it.

I'll close out this blog by sharing some of my broadcasts on Periscope that I was able to save. This is a good show-and-tell of the different uses livestreaming apps can have, whether you're a content creator, entrepreneur, or just a regular Joe who wants to share your eyes for a couple minutes with the rest of the world...

Just a regular Joe...


Watching movies...




Out in the Community; impromptu reporting...




Some more hanging out in the World...



For further reading and a side-by-side comparison on the two hottest live streaming apps, check out this article