In news that's both unsurprising, yet sad in a nostalgic sense, it seems that Twitter may be looking to put its separate live-streaming app Periscope out to pasture, with a line of code indicating that a 'shut down' of the platform may be imminent.
The finding comes from reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong who noticed this indicator when cross-checking the latest version of the Twitter app code.
This text found inside Twitter’s app indicates the shutdown notice might be shown in future versions of the Periscope app, directing users to a FAQ page about the app pic.twitter.com/gGrNNxRLL7— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) December 11, 2020
That's not definitive, of course, and it's possible that it could refer to something else entirely. But the messaging seems pretty clear (note: the link within the code is currently inactive).
That wouldn't be a huge surprise. Back in 2016, Twitter announced the integration of its live-streaming functionality into Twitter itself, which pretty much rendered Periscope obsolete.
We're making it easier for you to share what's happening in your world. Now you can #GoLive on Twitter!https://t.co/frWuHaPTFJ pic.twitter.com/Xpfpk1zWJV— Twitter (@Twitter) December 14, 2016
The announcement meant that users no longer needed to download the separate Periscope app to go live on Twitter, and as we noted at the time:
"While Periscope will continue to operate as a separate entity for now, the merging of the two could suggest that the app's days are numbered, at least as a standalone platform."
If anything, it's surprising that Periscope has lasted as long as it has. There are still some things you can't do via Twitter live-streams that you can within Periscope (like saving your streams), but even back in 2016, the writing was on the wall.
But Periscope has trudged on, and you still see Periscope streams popping up every now and then.
But whether that's because Periscope serves a functional purpose, or due to lingering affection for the app (Periscope founder Kayvon Beykpour is now the Product Lead at Twitter) is hard to say. Looking at the Periscope blog, the app's last major update (go live with guests) came back in February 2019, so it's seemingly been neglected for a bit.
Really, the app's closure seems inevitable, but again, it's seemed that way for some time. What may have changed at Twitter's end is impossible for an outsider to determine, but providing separate support for the app doesn't really make a lot of sense.
It could simply be that Twitter's working on new alternatives to announce along with the closure, like saved streams on your Twitter profile, or the integration of Twitter live streams with Fleets. That'll be the next step to help maximize Twitter stream viewership, but having your past videos available in a dedicated section on your profile would also be handy, as opposed to storing them on Periscope.
Maybe Twitter's been working to develop that option, which is why Periscope has had a stay of execution. But again, it's no surprise to see that Twitter's likely moving towards shutting it down.
But it is a reminder of the initial excitement around the live-stream boom back in 2015.
At South-by-Southwest in 2015, live-streaming app Meerkat was the app of the moment, with every other tech guru and social media influencer jumping on board the next big thing, and broadcasting themselves, living out their dreams of hosting their own live TV show.
Periscope came just weeks later, with Twitter quickly moving to purchase the live-streaming app. The growth of Periscope slowed Meerkat's momentum, with the two platforms competing for a time, before Facebook Live came in and blunted both significantly.
Most of those live-streams sucked, but for a moment, it was fun, social media had a new means of engagement, and it was exciting to see what people would come up with, and to hear and see these people who you'd connected with over time, and even communicate with them during their streams.
It was like that initial period following the launch of Pokemon Go, where people were out in the streets running into others who were excitedly chasing Pokemon on their phone screens. There was a buzz about live-streaming, a real community to it, and for a moment, social media felt imminently social again, not just faceless profiles competing for likes by coming up with witty retorts and jibes.
Periscope was part of that, and in this sense, it'll be sad to see it go, if this is, indeed, the end of the road for the app.
Functionally, it won't make a heap of difference, as there are plenty of ways to go live, on Twitter itself and in other apps. But emotionally, it'll be a little sad.
Maybe that's why Periscope is still going, still carrying on despite subsequent industry shifts. But it seems inevitable that it will, at some stage, come to an end.
Twitter hasn't confirmed the pending closure, and we'll keep you updated on any official news.