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Twitter's Periscope tackles live streaming, Meerkat

Periscope app
Source: Periscope
Periscope app

Live-streaming video app Periscope is launching out of beta, less than two weeks after Twitter announced its acquisition of the start-up for a reported $100 million.

"We think Periscope is the most powerful way to see what's happening around the world, right now," said CEO and co-founder Kayvan Beykpour.

While Periscope will operate independently, it is a big move to bring Twitter, which aims to be the ultimate real-time network, into real-time video.

Periscope's launch comes shortly after Meerkat, which also works on live streams via Twitter, exploded in popularity at South by Southwest. The two differ in at least one key way: Meerkat's streams are only available live, while Periscope videos can be watched for 24 hours after a live stream is over.

"We think Periscope can be this real-time visual pulse of what's happening around the world. To me, that's what Twitter is, but just through 140 characters rather than live video," says Beykpour. "And I think when we realized that alignment was there, we realized that the marriage of these two companies could help us make our vision a reality more quickly."

Another difference: Unlike Meerkat, which posts streams publicly, Periscope users can choose between public and private broadcasts; you can tweet a link to a Periscope stream to all your Twitter followers, or can invite a handful of people to watch. Users can also save a video to their library.

"We think the experience of being there live is awesome, but if you do miss it you can still watch," said Beykpour.

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"The broadcaster can choose to make their content available afterwards and make it available for replay. So, if I miss your broadcast because I was busy or in a meeting or something like that, I can watch the replay and I see the comments and I see the hearts after the fact, as well," he said.

Taping the screen posts a heart, allowing viewers to show their love to the broadcaster, and thus encourage them to keep going. Similar to Meerkat, Periscope is designed to be really interactive. Viewers can comment on streams that pop up in front of the broadcaster. But unlike Meerkat, which sends those comments to Twitter as well, comments on Periscope stay within the app.

If you are watching a reply you can't post comments, but you can see the comments and hearts posted during the live stream, as if you're watching in real time.

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Celebrities from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Kobe Bryant have been playing with the app. And the content is as varied as Twitter investor Chris Sacca streaming the burial at sea of his kid's pet fish, to Daily Mail North America CEO Jon Steinberg giving a tour of his office, to couples cooking, or a video of a beautiful sunset. Now it will be interesting to see how quickly the app adds users, and who emerges as the stars of this new format.