Tonight’s Main Event: Meerkat Vs Periscope
Meerkat, the live-streaming app became a media favorite recently at the famed South by Southwest (SXSW) event annually held in Austin, Texas. However, it may not get to enjoy its stardom status for too long as Twitter has been en garde as of late and their answer is Periscope.
So Which One is Better?
Both these streaming apps are more or less the same in essence; they’re built for people who want to send live streams of their videos to those interested, while sharing a link to the live feed on Twitter. You start to get followership and build an audience. Sounds like a great way to kill some idle time.
Here’s a bit of a kicker though: neither one of these apps have the ability to work without Twitter, as you have to have an account to use them. While Meerkat was integrated nicely within Twitter (the plug was pulled recently), Periscope is actually backed by Twitter.
At their core, both have the same features more or less. To give you the lowdown on which one we feel is better – after all, this can be a strong case of personal opinion more than anything else – let’s take a closer look at their functionality.
How Twitter Plays in
It’s interesting how Meerkat must rely on Twitter to function properly and ironic too, since it’s actively competing with them.
Meerkat users need to have a Twitter account; whenever a stream is “Liked”, watched or commented on, it shows up on your Twitter account. So essentially, whatever’s happening on Meerkat is happening on Twitter as well.
Periscope does not work along similar lines. All actions take place within the app. “Liking” also works on a different principle – you can Like a broadcast as many times as you want and every Like prompts a little heart that floats up from the bottom half of the screen. Broadcasters get to see exactly what their audience fancies and finds engaging.
How Long Do Videos Stay Up?
When you’re done streaming your video on Meerkat, it’s gone for good after that, as in, vanished into oblivion. You might want to save it to your camera roll, but that’s all you can do; others won’t be able to see it.
On Periscope, you can save videos for nearly 24 hours; during that window, your followers can view them at any time. They can be manually deleted if need be, though by default, they are saved and available for viewing during that time frame. Videos can also be saved to your phone’s camera roll.
On one hand, I enjoyed how Periscope lets me watch things I can’t watch live. On the other, I find Meerkat’s ephemeral nature interesting; little point to watching a livestream unless you’re actually viewing it live, is there?
How Notifications Work
Whether you like seeing push notifications popping up on your phone or not, you’ll be seeing plenty of them from both apps.
Push notifications actually work rather well for livestreaming apps. You might miss a live broadcast, which pretty much defeats the app’s purpose, doesn’t it?
Necessity aside, I do feel some improvements to how push notifications are in order. Here’s the problem: you can opt out if you wish but then you won’t know what’s happening live. When you keep them on, any time someone you’re following starts a broadcast, you’ll start getting bombarded with notifications.
I wish there were options to filter notifications, so you only get to see relevant or desired broadcasts from someone. At the moment, how notifications work, it does seem pretty rigid: view everything or nothing. You can, of course, ignore them whenever you wish but how do you know you’re missing out on something you might have liked?
Interface and General Feel
Right off the bat, you’re going to notice how Periscope feels more refined. No surprise there as it was in the making for nearly a year as opposed to Meerkat’s development time which was under two months.
Periscope sports a traditional layout – several tabs at the bottom end of the screen while displaying a profile in the upper-right corner. You’ll get around just fine the first time you launch it.
Meerkat’s interface makes it a breeze to post broadcasts. You’ll spot the stream feature right away. However, the tabs displayed on the top-half of the screen can be a bit of a nuisance to navigate. There’s also no place to put up a profile photo or leave a little self-description.
I found this interesting, not necessarily in a helpful way though: Meerkat displays a score, including a “leaderboard” tab which highlights the highest scoring users. This so-called score is an aggregation of your time spent streaming + total viewers + follower engagement. Is this really helpful? We’ll leave that up to you.
Who Wins the Title Fight?
Before we give away the “epic” conclusion, let’s quickly touch on the major differences again:
- Twitter sharing: Comments left on Meerkat get posted on your Twitter account as well. Periscope works independently; your conversations remain within the video stream and all engagement takes place within the app only.
- Video viewing: Streams on Meerkat cannot be viewed again. Periscope allows you to save videos which can be viewed later (within a certain time frame).
You might see a few updates in the coming days for sure. At the moment, Periscope seems to be edging ahead slightly – if you’re following someone on Twitter, you can easily follow them on Periscope. They automatically show up in your “People” tab.
This isn’t quite as simple in Meerkat’s case, since Twitter no longer provides access to its social graph; you’ll have a hard time finding friends. Building a genuine following might be initially a tall order since you’re building it from scratch. The fact that there’s a better alternative out there, doesn’t help either.
However, Meerkat recently bagged a cool $14 million in funds and we should be seeing exciting features coming our way soon enough.
Can we declare a clear winner? I’m giving slightly more kudos to Periscope, but then again, it’s a matter of personal taste, isn’t it?
Have you used both these apps? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below. You can also get in touch directly with our app developers.