Over the last couple of months the internet has gone mad for two new iPhone apps, Meerkat and Periscope. If you missed out on these Twitter sensations, let us fill in the blanks. They let people broadcast live video through Twitter so they can share experiences with the world.
But while Meerkat and Periscope have taken the world by storm, they are by no means an original idea. YouNowhas been letting you broadcast yourself live for over a year, and Twitchmade it possible to watch people playing computer games two years ago.
Those of you with a phone from the Sony Xperia Z series will also be familiar with the concept of live broadcasting, as it has come built into your camera app for over a year.
So what’s all this new technology being used for? Imagine letting family members from all over the world come to your kid’s first birthday, or being able to see the very heart of protests from your home.
Even Katy Perry’s welcomed the popular new apps, saying she sees the number of phones being held up in an audience as a sign of how well she’s performing. That means we could all get a taste of being at a Katy Perry concert without getting off the sofa thanks to Periscope and Meerkat.
The future could hold even more potential. What if Meerkat brought out its own 360-degree camera that could send immersive videos straight to Oculus Rift, or any other futuristic virtual reality headset? You could be transported to the beach with your friends, instead of getting a postcard.
Of course, live broadcasting from a phone’s camera isn’t all good news. There have already been live streams of security checks at airports – which can’t be good for the fight against terrorism – and it’ll be harder than ever to tackle movie piracy.
And if you want to create your own show through one of these apps, you’ll need a big data allowance or a Wi-Fi connection. Broadcasting video is going to use as much data as streaming it would.
Live broadcasting apps will undoubtedly change social media. But at the moment, finding something good to watch through them is like trying to find someone interesting to talk to on Chat Roulette.