Meerkat is now available for Android users to download from the Play Store, having been released as a public beta. The app can broadcast live video streams, which are linked directly to a Twitter account.
An early beta edition of Meerkat had previously been released, but that was only available to those who signed up to the developer’s testing programme.
When a Meerkat video stream starts, a link is automatically tweeted from the Twitter account that the app is linked to. This integration means that Twitter users are alerted when someone they follow begins a broadcast.
Meerkat was originally released for iOS. It was shortly followed onto Apple’s platform by Periscope – Twitter’s in-house attempt at a live video streaming app.
Differences between Meerkat and Periscope
Periscope is not actually available for Android. Twitter has said that it plans to release the app for Google’s mobile operating system at some point, although it has not revealed a timescale.
The key difference between Meerkat and Periscope is that Periscope allows video streams to be saved and watched back and a later time.
This all begs the question: will it ever be possible to rewatch livestreams in Meerkat? At present, that does not seem to be a very likely possibility as Meerkat lists one of its key rules as being: ‘Everything is live, no reruns’.
Meerkat’s decision to limit views to live video only appears to be based upon a similar philosophy to Snapchat. It is anticipated that users will produce content that is designed to be destroyed immediately after it has been viewed.
The thinking behind Meerkat’s position seems easy enough to understand. The service hopes to attract people who do not want to stumble across one of their broadcasts, buried in the depths of the internet, a couple of years later.
The promise of self-destructing content offers a number of potential benefits.
Users will be encouraged to be more creative, as there is less chance their content will embarrass them at a later date.
Self-destructing videos also mean that Meerkat can be less intimidating than a service like YouTube. Some YouTube vloggers choose to invest heavily in videography and studio equipment, whereas Meerkat does not give the impression of having large barriers to entry.
Meerkat vs Periscope
There is a lot of logic behind Meerkat’s approach to live video streaming. Snapchat’s take on self-destructing content has certainly proven to be very popular, particularly amongst younger users.
Since the launch of Periscope, however, it would seem that many users are opting for Twitter’s offering instead of Meerkat.
It may be that users actually prefer to have the possibility of saving videos permanently. Or the popularity of Periscope might be because it is Twitter’s official service.
Meerkat for Android bugs
At the time of writing, the Android edition of Meerkat only has a rating of 2.7 out of 5 on the Play Store. And as is to be expected with a beta release, the app does not run particularly smoothly.
The biggest problem with Meerkat for Android right now is that live broadcasts have a tendency to freeze. Many devices seem to be plagued by this issue, which means that the app is only really suitable for testing as far as a lot of users are concerned.
The fact that the Android version of Meerkat is best suitable to testing is not a criticism – such a scenario is to be expected with a beta release.
There are many Android users who would prefer to be given early access to an app that is generating so much hype, rather than having to wait until Meerkat becomes more stable.
Download Meerkat for Android
Those who want to check out Meerkat can download a copy of the beta from Google Play. It is available for devices running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and above.