Editors' note: This review has been updated to include the release of the Android version, May 26, 2015.
Twitter's Periscope (iOS|Android) lets you watch or shoot live streaming video and has a constantly updated list of live streams to browse. It has an easy-to-understand interface, and the excitement of seeing what's happening right now in other parts of the world is surprisingly compelling.
Periscope came out hot on the heels of Meerkat, a live video-streaming app that released in mid-February and immediately skyrocketed up the most-popular-app lists. , but it quickly became clear Periscope had more features, more ways to discover content, and might be the app that makes this new way of viewing live video an everyday thing.
What does Periscope do?
Periscope lets you set up a live video shoot by adding a title and deciding whether you want to share your location so people can see where you're shooting from. When you start your broadcast, notifications go out to your followers that have Periscope so they can touch the link to watch the live stream instantly.
During your live video, audience members can type in comments that you and other audience members will see at the bottom of the screen. Audience members can "like" your video live, by touching anywhere on the screen to make a heart icon float up that everyone can see. In this way, your live shoot becomes a conversation where you can interact with the audience watching your show.
When your broadcast is over, you can save your video to your camera roll or choose to make your video available for replay so people who missed it still have a chance to watch. Unfortunately, the replays stay up for only 24 hours after you post them. Ideally, you could go to a person's profile and watch every Periscope they ever made. Obviously, that would be an enormous amount of information in the cloud, but even if you could go back just a month, it would be better.
Still, Periscope makes live streaming easy and accessible on your smartphone so shooting live from the game, concert, party or political rally can be done by anyone. Not only that, but the excitement of seeing something happening in your friends' life right now is what makes apps like Periscope special.
More to explore
Even when you're not shooting videos or watching what your friends post, there's plenty to do on Periscope. The app displays three featured live streams at the top, then a long list of live streams being shot by others in that moment.