WTF Is Periscope?

Yesterday I got a text from someone asking me to check out their #fridgeview on Periscope. My initial response was “absolutely fucking not” quickly followed by “wait, wtf is Periscope?” After a little Googling, I found out I wasn't the only person asking that question.

Periscope is an app that allows you to live-stream from your phone to anyone in the world. Kind of like Snapchat stories, but real time. Twitter bought it last week for a rumored $100 million dollars and made it publicly available Thursday to anyone with an iOS device, because odds are if you have a Windows phone no one cares what you’re doing anyways. 

Theoretically, Periscope could revolutionize the way news is disseminated. The ability to live stream a real time situation to the whole world offers up a whole slew of journalistic opportunities that previous generations have only dreamed of. Imagine if this had been available while the Ferguson riots were taking place, or being able to see in real time what’s happening in the Middle East. The possibilities for transparency are endless. However, since its release it’s been mostly utilized to offer tours of people’s fridges. Thank God for technology, am I right?

Basically how it works is this: you can subscribe to the streams of the people you follow on Twitter. Once they start streaming you’ll get an alert. If the people you subscribe to are boring af, then you can browse the Most Loved streams, which is the Periscope equivalent of a trending page. You can also make your streams “private”, which means an unreal amount of cybersex is about to get streamed, and subsequently leaked. You’re not a real app until your first scandal, anyways. 

This all sounds like such a great idea, you’re probably wondering why no one had ever thought of it before. Well it turns out someone had, and it’s called Meerkat. Effectively the same thing as Periscope without the privacy controls, Meerkat also allows you to live-stream via Twitter as well. It was launched about two weeks ago, and was rapidly gaining popularity among the tech crowd and One Direction fans who needed to broadcast their Zayn-induced tears. Probably not-so-coincidentally, the day that Meerkat announced $14 million in new funding was the same day that Twitter dropped Periscope, which definitely puts them in the running for “shadiest move of 2015.”

Since then, Periscope has sky-rocketed and Meerkat is losing steam. Twitter cut ties with Meerkat, which makes it inconvenient for users to find their friend's streams to subscribe to. Periscope lets you browse through other popular streams, while Meerkat only lets you view people you follow. Private viewing options aren't available on Meerkat, either. The only notable complaint about Periscope so far is that is sends you a fuck ton of notifications, which, to be fair, is the actual worst.

Obviously, there are two applications standing before me, and only one can be America’s Next Top Streaming App. The battle is far from over, but Periscope has a significant lead right now. If Meerkat can use that recently acquired $14 million to get their shit together, they might have a fighting chance. You wanna be on top?


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