Video-streaming apps are the latest craze to hit mobile devices. There are two big names right now that have all the attention — Meerkat and Periscope. Both of these applications basically do the same thing: allow you to stream live video from your phone. But which one is better? Which should you use?
Meerkat was built in just eight weeks and launched in early March to much hype and fanfare at SXSW. Lots of brands and celebrities jumped on the bandwagon. Periscope, Meerkat’s main competitor, debuted at the end of March after Twitter acquired the company just a few weeks prior. When Periscope launched everyone began asking the same question: which app will win the live-streaming race?
So far, according to Quartz, Periscope has the lead, but not by much. As indicated in the graph below (data from Topsy), the total number of tweets with links to Periscope streams is just slightly larger than those with links to Meerkat streams. But the question still stands: which streaming app is better?
The two apps are quite similar in functionality; open the app, enter the title of your broadcast, choose whether or not to tweet the link, press the stream button, and bam — you're live. For the most part, Periscopes and Meerkats are solid in terms of stream quality (that also depends on your and the broadcaster's connection, of course). Both apps will send you push notifications when your friends go live with a stream, and both apps allow you to tap into random streams from across the world.
One of the main differentiations between the two streaming app is that Periscope will save broadcasts for 24 hours, allowing followers to replay the stream. Meerkat lacks this functionality, which perhaps drives a deeper sense of urgency to catch a live broadcast, whereas Periscopes can be watched live, or at a user’s convenience — within 24 hours, of course.
Another, big difference between the two live-streaming apps, from an aesthetic standpoint, is the broadcast screen. Periscope takes the cake here. Take a look at the juxtaposed images below: Meerkat (left) is cluttered with information — status bar, location, title, user, viewers, avatars, comments, and share buttons. Periscope (right) is clean. No status bar, no username, no location — just comments and number of users.
That's not to say that Meerkat is worse or Periscope is better. They are both great apps that more or less perform the same function, but in slightly different ways. Both Periscope and Meerkat should exist — choice is always good for the consumer. However, Periscope is now owned by Twitter and has the company’s backbone to support it. Meerkat was essentially built to work on top of Twitter, and Twitter has a history of being cold toward developers.
As with most new social networks, the users are what makes a product strong. And right now, those users are mostly on iPhone. At the time of writing, neither has a fully functional Android app available (an Android version of Meerkat exists, but you cannot broadcast video). Whoever releases one first will get a sizable boost in number of new users, naturally.
But as far as the Meerkat or Periscope question goes, the answer is simple: the choice is yours.