Periscope: 5 things you should know before you broadcast live

If you got nothing done on Friday because of a little something called Periscope, you're not alone. Twitter launched the live streaming video app on Thursday, giving you the ability to watch live video streamed from other users' iPhones, or broadcast directly from your own iPhone for the world to see.

Mind blown. No, really this time. It's early, but with video coming in live from all over the world at any given moment, this could be a game changer.

Because it's a lot to take in, here are 5 things you should know about Periscope before you go live (which should happen right after you read this!):

1. It's really easy.
You might think streaming live video is complicated, but it's not. With a few clicks (detailed here by our friends at CNET), you'll be showing the world what you see in no time.

Three buttons on the bottom of the app guide you through your experience. You can watch feeds, broadcast your own feed, or find people to follow. To watch a stream someone is broadcasting, just tap on it. You'll see the name of the broadcaster, the title they've given it, and a location, if they've enabled their GPS setting. You can even watch feeds after they're over, assuming the user who shot them opted to upload the archived version for replay (for a max of 24 hours). Users also have the option to just remove the stream immediately once it's done. That's up to them, not you.

When it comes to broadcasting what you see, a few clicks your very first time will get your settings in order, and then, it's just a matter of starting and stopping. When you go live, those who follow you on Periscope will get an automatic notification, and you'll also have the option to tell the world your streaming by sending a notification on Twitter. If you want more eyes, you'll want to do that each time.

2. Your settings are important.
There aren't many settings involved with Periscope, but the ones that do exist are important. You'll have to enable your mic and camera to get started. You also need to decide if you want to keep the videos you broadcast. If you do, make sure you set the app to save your videos to the camera roll automatically under the People tab (autosave broadcasts). Otherwise, they'll be gone.

When you broadcast, you'll have the option to click location and the Twitter button (to notify your Twitter followers that you're live) EVERY time, and there's also a lock button you hit if you want to go private. You CAN limit who sees your stream, but you have to hit that button and select the individual users you want to see your stream.

Also, when you end the broadcast, the video uploads automatically to the app, unless you tell it to stop.

3. Hearts and comments.
Periscope wants you to feel the love on your broadcasts, and dish it out for those you like. If you tap the screen while watching a feed, you're giving it love (in the form of colored hearts that appear). Keep tapping if you like it. The more love you get, the higher you will rise in the "Most Loved" ranking-- which is the closest thing to a recommended/best of feature they have.

You'll also see comments on live videos. You can comment on what you're watching, or receive comments on what you're broadcasting. This spells INSTANT interaction, perfect for Q&As. Everyone can see the comments and hearts as they roll in, and they're also present on the replay version.

BTW, comments on Periscope stay on Periscope. It doesn't pull in any of your activity from Twitter.

4. How is it different from Meerkat?
Let's start with how they're the same. Both are free, only available for iPhone and they both let you watch live video or broadcast your own stream from your iPhone.

Meerkat launched in February, and instantly became wildly popular. You stream using the app, and your followers on Twitter get a notification. But there's nothing after it's over-- the video isn't saved and you can't watch it after the live broadcast ends. Because of the introduction of Periscope, Twitter has limited Meerkat's access to Twitter's social graph, so the notifications aren't as reliable. If you don't catch a live stream notification from Meerkat exactly when it's happening, they're tough to find.

Periscope, on the other hand, lets you see videos not only from those YOU follow, but from anyone who is streaming with the app. The list of live video they deliver is constantly changing. All of that immediacy means you're probably more likely to get involved with Periscope, watching and interacting with more than just one video (or hanging around to watch the back and forth between the broadcaster and the audience) than you are Meerkat.

One other thing: Meerkat automatically had you following everyone you followed on Twitter who was also on Meerkat. Periscope doesn't. It puts the control in your hands, though it does help you by suggesting who you should follow.

5. How to find people to follow.
This is one of the most-asked questions we've heard so far. Periscope tries to guide you on who to follow. When you log in, they'll give you top lists, plus the people you currently follow who are on Periscope. Everyone is selected, so unless you deselect them all, you'll be following them. You'll get new suggestions each time you log in, and there's also a search box where you can search for people you want to follow by their username.

The first account you need to follow? @fox5newsdc, of course!

More on Periscope: Click here!

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