In the current race among live-streaming apps, Periscope is pretty clearly in the lead. While Meerkat was first out of the gate, and newer competitors like Blab are gaining attention, the Twitter-owned video app has been steadily solidifying its user base, and moving ahead with clever new additions. Last month, Periscope announced a new integration with Apple TV, which has the potential to greatly expand the apps audience by making it available from the comfort of your couch. And today, Periscope has announced its latest update, improving their intriguing global map feature and adding in the extremely useful ability to skip ahead on replays.
Around the World
Introduced back in June, Periscope's Global Map function enables users to see where people are broadcasting from, around the world and in real-time. It's an interesting tool, and it goes some way towards underlining the ability for Periscope to connect users with world events and expose people to alternate perspectives of the world.
But the original map had some flaws, according to Periscope:
"The map only showed live broadcasts (no replays) and was limited to a total of 250 broadcasts. At any given point there are thousands of broadcasts live on Periscope and orders of magnitude more replays, so the Map was only showing the tip of the iceberg. The new map launching today has some major improvements."
The new Periscope map, as shown above, will highlight not only live broadcasts happening around the world (in red), but also replays from the last 24 hours (in blue). The wide-view world map, available in a separate tab within the Periscope app, gives you general numbers of overall Periscope streams in each part of the world, on which you can then zoom in to get more specific detail on each region, showing the amount of live and recorded content available in each.
This is a great addition - while the original map is pretty good in itself, these improvements will make it a more functional and helpful tool, especially for those who are looking to follow world events. Now, if there's a major event in any region of the world, you can turn to Periscope and get a more comprehensive view of how people on the ground are seeing those incidents, both in real-time and from when reports first began. The tool will make it easier to follow along, and you can imagine journalists would also find great value in being able to more easily access a wider range of live-stream resources, focused on each region.
Get to the Point
The second part of the update relates to the ability for Periscope viewers to skip ahead on replays, a major plus.
I can speak to this from my own experience - Periscope streams are becoming more common for announcements and events, which is great for those of us writing about the latest news and updates and looking to get that additional insight that normally only those in attendance can see. A great example was the recent Twitter earnings announcement - the whole presentation was streamed on Periscope, making it easy for me to be able to go back and re-watch to ensure I was getting the quotes and details right. The ability to skim back and forth easily improves this utility tenfold.
In a wider sense, the option to skip forward and back within the playback - and even control the speed at which the playback skims - will come in handy for a heap of users and is a great addition to Periscope's functionality.
In addition to these core functional updates, Periscope has also added in new 3D touch shortcuts for iPhone 6 users, while Android users have been given access to the 'pinch to zoom' functionality, which had previously only been available via iOS.
The Evolution of Streaming
The live-streaming landscape is an intriguing one to watch. Interest is definitely growing in the functionality - as highlighted by Periscope's 10 million user accounts - and Twitter's clearly putting a focus on better integrating Periscope into their wider offerings, including the new Moments tab. But while audience is growing, participation rates - the amount of people actively broadcasting via live stream - remain relatively low, which could hinder further growth of the option and limit commercial opportunities.
At the same time, Facebook and YouTube are circling with their own live-streaming options - it's almost as if the current players would be better off not generating too much attention for the offering, because once it gets to a level where there's significant audience demand - and thus, marketing interest - it's quite possible that one of the bigger players could swoop in with a bigger, better product and blow the existing providers out of the water (worth noting, Facebook also announced an update to their Live streaming option today, introducing subscribe buttons to make more people aware of when streams are happening).
That said, Periscope is developing a very dedicated fan community. The first ever Periscope Community Summit was held earlier this year, and another's scheduled for January. Twitter's also working on new partnership offerings with influencers on Vine and Periscope through Niche which could improve the stickiness of the platform and keep creators (and their audiences) around.
The new Periscope updates are available from today.