Meerkat is the new video live stream service that enables anyone with a smartphone to stream video live to any of your followers and lets them comment via twitter. If you are a follower of tech media, you will undoubtedly have heard that Meerkat is making a huge splash as the current must-have app. Even big name celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Ashton Kutcher are embracing the video streaming app.
Meerkat is awesome for getting a glimpse into the lives and happenings of people you follow. But don’t just watch, get in on the action and live stream your own video to an engaged audience. Here’s how:
First you’ll need the app. Right now you can only stream from the iPhone app, but On the Air, the company that develops Meerkat, has a viewing app for Android out now. Go ahead and download Meerkat from the App Store right now:
When you open the app, you’ll get an introduction to what Meerkat is and how it works. You’ll then get a list of live streams from people you follow on Twitter. You can tap on any of these to watch their stream and comment on and like. Comments and likes will be sent out as tweets from you Twitter account and show up in real time at the bottom of the video stream where everyone watching can read.
Let’s get to the fun part though: making our own stream. You might be tempted to hit that “stream” button right now, but you should probably do some preparation first. Ask yourself a couple questions first:
1. Do I have something people want to watch?
Right now, you’ll find lots of people live streaming their walk to work or school. I’m willing to bet not many of your followers want to watch your face bounce up and down their screen as you’re taking a walk.
The most interesting streams –and the ones that will get the most watchers– will be where you are doing something interesting. Skydiving? Zip lining? Painting? Creating? Go for it. Writing a paper for for your Econ 208 class? Probably not.
2. Am I prepared to not use my phone for as long as I stream?
Streaming on Meerkat will be the full-time job of your phone as you stream. You might be able to close the app during your stream, but your viewers will get a lovely blurred screen and nothing to watch.
3. Do I want random people around the world watching what I’m doing?
Meerkat is live video from your iPhone’s camera, so whatever your phone can see, anyone in the world can see too. You need to be prepared to forsake your privacy for as long as you stream. This means cleaning up anything you don’t want people to see, and not saying anything you don’t want heard. It’s also a good idea to let the people around you know what you’re doing, and make sure that taking broadcasting is allowed at your location. Using Meerkat while you’re cooking a fancy dinner at home is ok, but you could run into problems if you try to stream at a major league game or a museum.
In fact, Meerkat has a list of eight rules for using the app, in order to keep everyone happy, safe, and legal:
The Rules of Meerkat
Everything that happens on meerkat happens on Twitter.
Streams will be pushed to followers in real time via push notifications.
People can only watch it live. No reruns.
Watchers can restream any stream to their followers in real time.
Scheduled streams will be distributed in the community by their subscribers.
Your own streams can be kept locally on your phone, but never on the cloud.
Everyone can watch on web.
If all three questions are met with a yes, tap stream and broadcast to the world. The app will ask permission to use your camera and your microphone, and you’ll be streaming almost immediately. The interface is similar to watching a Meerkat stream, but with a few more options. You can change which camera to use (front or back), a button to turn on the rear camera flash to light your scene, and a stop button, in addition to the comment button.
Once you end your stream, Meerkat will ask if you want to keep the stream. Tapping yes will save a video copy of the entire stream to your camera roll on your phone.
And that’s it. Meerkat could potentially create a huge impact on how we view events and get a glimpse into the lives of others. What and when you stream is entirely up to you, and as of this moment, Meerkat is skyrocketing into relevance as a media tool, and we’ve only just scratch at the surface of the possibilities of the platform.