Twitter releases Periscope, its live-streaming competitor to Meerkat

Added on by Tyler Gold.

I spent the morning playing around with Periscope, a new app from Twitter that lets you start live broadcasts from your mobile phone. It's weird at first, but it makes you feel like you're right there with the person streaming. Casey Newton of The Verge nails the allure of live-streaming:

Live-streaming apps are the thirstiest of all media. A Facebook post wants a like, a tweet begs for favs, and a snap means little without a response. But for sheer drop-everything, look-at-me arrogance, nothing beats the push notification that says "LIVE NOW." I’m doing literally anything, the notification says. Watch now, or you’ll miss out forever.

Meerkat, which does the same thing as Periscope but was released a couple of weeks ago, made a lot of noise at this year's SXSW. The people are thirsty indeed.

But Periscope is backed by Twitter, the champion of up-to-the-minute updates. Periscope instantly feels more polished and stable than Meerkat, but what's really damning is that Twitter took away Meerkat's access to its "social graph" (the social graph lets users connect using their Twitter accounts, taking away the need for Meerkat to have its own username / profile system).

Both apps are still young, but it's apparent to me that interactions like this are the future. When you think about it, even the simple fact that we have the technological capability to do this is mindblowing. Protests, concerts, shows — any highly-public event will never be the same.

One last thought: I'd love to see Snapchat buy out Meerkat. I already confuse their icons as it is. One big difference between Periscope and Meerkat is that Periscope saves your videos for 24-hours post-broadcast. Meerkat broadcasts, on the other hand, are gone once the stream is over; that fresh-hot ephemerality feels like a pretty good match for Snapchat in my book.


Added on by Tyler Gold.

I just rediscovered this story that I wrote back in January. I typed it on my iPhone on the train ride immediately after the events I'm describing.

I witnessed something awesome tonight. It could have been nothing, but I think it was something. In fact, I think it one of the best romantic surprises I've ever seen (on a screen or in real-life). Let me explain.

It's 7pm on a Tuesday night. I'm making my way through Penn Station towards the New Jersey transit section. The late crowd of commuters is finally headed home, hoping to catch the 7:03 express. As I'm walking to the train, I hear a loud noise from about five feet to my left. I whip my head to the source of the sound: a quick whistle followed by a piercing hooooot. The whistle was so loud it turned the heads of the entire herd of commuters waiting in the lobby.

I'm at a particularly good vantage point to see who made the noise. It's a kid who can't be older than 21. He's built somewhere in-between me and my younger brother: not too tall, thin but lean. He's a good looking dude, with a happy, bright-eyed grin. A flash of guilt runs across his face when the entire lobby turned to look at him; he was clearly trying to get the attention of only one person. Based off how happy he looks, I wonder if it's a girl. I think nothing of it.

But I walk down the stairs to join the herd I hear the noise again, but noticeably more quietly. I slow down and notice someone walking against the tide towards the kid who made the whistle-hooooot, who is now crouched behind his suitcases. He's playfully hiding from the person who is now emerging from the herd and walking towards him.

It's a girl who's probably the same age as he is; I would guess 19 or 20. She has long black hair framing a pretty, naturally tanned face. Her clothes are of similar fashion to his: she's wearing a cool leather jacket with brown boots with a big heel that she clearly knows how to rock.

She's equally glad to see him; maybe even more so. She has a thin smile, but her eyes say everything. She is beaming at his suitcases — she obviously knows who it is hiding behind them. Maybe the whistle-hooooot is an inside joke.

It's immediately apparent to me that these two are a "thing". Could they be traveling together? No, they're way too excited for that. I think this encounter might have been serendipitous — or at the very least a surprise for one of them, probably her.

I don't know how they know each other, and I'll probably never find out. But as soon as she reached him hiding behind his suitcases — could he be traveling to meet her? — he jumps up and the two lock into one of the most passionate, excited, natural embraces I've ever seen. They whisper nothings into each other's ear, and then start kissing. They don't stop, of course, because they're young and young people don't care about PDA. I turn around to give them some privacy (even though they don't seem to want it) and reflect on the crazy vibes they were giving off.

As the screens above the lobby finally flash to show which track my train is on, I quickly glance back at the couple. They're still locked together, still talking. As I look, they start passionately kissing again.

I turn around and join the commuter stampede rushing towards the train tracks.