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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

5 Free Live Stream Video Apps for Mobile Phones

A new crop of lightweight apps launched recently appears poised to take mobile live streaming of video into the mainstream. These apps are designed to broadcast real-time video from smart phones; they don’t require special microphones or camera add-ons. They just use the camera built into most smart phones.
Sending live stream video from phones remains tricky business, despite all the apps launched over the years attempting to simplify real-time transmission of video over the Internet.
Until recently, most live-streaming software was designed to broadcast video from a desktop webcam or laptop computer, not a phone.
 But new mobile apps like Meerkat are changing that. Twitter drew major media attention for this mobile broadcasting trend in March 2015 when it announced it was buying Periscope, one of the new mobile apps for live streaming video.
 At the same time, older, established webcam services also have added support for phones, and  Internet messenger apps have been busy adding real-time video capabilities, too.

Are Video Chat Apps Different from Mobile Live Video?

There are significant differences between video messaging and video broadcasting apps. The messaging apps let people conduct live video chats, but are more focused on personal communication than “lifecasting” events, so they're not really the same as the new mobile broadcasters. YouNow and Skype’s Qik are examples of popular video chat tools, but there are plenty of others, as Viber, WhatsApp, Kik and the whole messaging group rushes into video.
For live video broadcasts on the go, though, Meerkat is the app that has gained the most media attention in the early going. And it has a growing amount competition.  
If you want to find out what the frenzy is about and try transmitting live video streams from your phone, here’s a short list of apps to consider:
1. MEERKAT is a free iOS app released in February 2015 that allows anyone to transmit live video on Twitter, essentially creating a special video channel on Twitter that other people can watch and interact with by sending tweets.  The fact that it only broadcasts on Twitter makes Meerkat a little different. Another key trait is that those watching it can’t record or replay the video; Meerkat streams are ephemeral like Snapchat messages. The person doing the broadcasting, however, can save a copy if they wish. Another cool feature is how people can chat in real time simply by sending tweets that appear on top of the video stream.  Meerkat has an Android app in the works but for now only enables Android users to watch Meerkats, not broadcast them. Read our review of the Meerkat app.
2. STRE.AM  is another mobile app that allows people to send live video from their phone and watch other people’s live streams.  Its motto is “ life as it happens.”  The free app is available for both iOS and Android mobile devices. has extra recording functionality that Meerkat lacks – people watching video can save clips or short slices of the video stream -- up to 15 seconds each-- and string them together into highlight “reels” that can be replayed  for 24 hours. Like Meerkat, users of can chat in real time while they are watching the stream, and their avatars appear superimposed on top of the video.  (You can download in the Apple apps store orGoogle's Play store.)
3. PERISCOPE is yet another new live mobile video app with a tag line of “See the world through someone else’s eyes.”  Twitter agreed to buy the app in early 2015, shortly before it emerged from  private beta testing and became available as a free download in the iTunes apps store.  Periscope tweeted news of the deal and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted simply, “This changes everything!”  The app is simpler to use than Meerkat and has drawn many positive reviews from early adopters. Its video feeds aren’t as ephemeral as Meerkat's—people broadcasting on Periscope can record their streams and make them available for replay later. Periscope also offers the option of doing either public or private live streams, a nice touch that allows for live videoconfereng, private teaching and similar uses. Read our review of Periscope.
4. BAMBUSER is an older app that’s been around for a while and gained a lot of attention in 2011 and 2012 when protestors used it to broadcast live video from street protests in Egypt and other countries during the “Arab Spring” uprisings. It allows anyone to stream live video from either a smart phone or a webcam on a computer. It has been used over the years by citizen journalists in many different countries.  Bambuser offers a personal app that’s free and supported by advertising, and an ad-free premium app designed for businesses that costs money. Premium plans start at $45 a month. Visit Bambuser's website.
5.  LIVESTREAM is one of the market leaders in live video broadcasts on the Internet, but most of its users are transmitting from professional videocameras or high-end webcams, not smart phones.  Livestream sells a small portable device called the “Broadcaster Mini” that uses wifi to send live HD video streams over the Internet. The company has a “Broadcaster Pro” device in the works, too. Most Livestream users pay premium fees to create professional broadcasting streams. But Livestream also has options for connecting its services with mobile phones so people can stream on the go, too. Visit website.

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