When you think of the word “meerkat,” what comes to mind? A fuzzy African mammal, or 2015’s hottest new app? If you answered B, you’re in luck, as today’s post will give you the rundown on the biggest news to come out of SXSW this year.
In a nutshell, Meerkat is an app that allows you to live-stream video and share it in real time. The difference between Meerkat and other live-streaming services is that a) video is not available after the stream ends, and b) you’re able to stream directly from your phone…no separate website is required. How does it work? Basically, Meerkat connects your phone’s camera to your Twitter feed. Open the app, hit the “stream” button, and you’re off! People can join your stream, and you can see how many people are viewing you by a series of icons at the top of your screen. Replies and conversations also happen in real time, and once you hit “end stream,” it’s over. No record exists of your bad jokes or guitar practice session.
The hope with Meerkat is that it will allow more individuals to participate in citizen journalism, without the application of governmental or journalistic filters. The difference with Meerkat and, say, Twitter, is that with text and static pictures, certain elements can be lost. Meerkat hopes to bridge that gap with its live-streaming capabilities. Before the advent of Meerkat, live-streaming an event involved an army of satellite trucks, miles of cable, and a large outlay of cash for satellite time.
Meerkat had previously relied on Twitter for its social graph, but Twitter has blocked Meerkat’s access since acquiring Periscope, which is a similar service. A tweet announcing your stream will still go out via Meerkat, but the app cannot connect your Twitter followers with Meerkat accounts.
As of right now, Meerkat is only available for iOS, but there is an Android version in the works. In fact, Meerkat developers took a weekend to make an unofficial app for watching so that Android users could get in on the real-time video streaming experience.
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