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Twitter's Periscope app takes on Meerkat with live video streamed from your phone

The microblogging social network wants you to broadcast live video from your mobile, and encourage other streamers with floating hearts.

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Twitter's new app lets you broadcast live from your phone. Screenshot by Luke Westaway/CNET

Simple static photos of people's lunch are no longer enough for Twitter, as the micro-blogging social site has debuted a new app that streams live video from your smartphone.

Dubbed Periscope, the free app takes very deliberate aim at Meerkat -- a similar, recently-launched service that lets you broadcast live video from your phone to your Twitter followers. Earlier this month Twitter moved to restrict Meerkat's access to its platform, revealing on the same day that it had purchased Periscope.

As a broadcast occurs, those viewing can add comments and send hearts to show their approval of the the on-screen action. Periscope keeps track of how many hearts you get from your viewers, and the more you acquire, the higher you climb in the app's "Most Loved" list. When you've finished broadcasting, a replay of your misadventures will be available for 24 hours.

If broadcasting your every move to the wider world sounds like a deeply unpleasant way to spend your time, Periscope also has a private mode, which lets you broadcast live only to specific people of your choosing.

As streaming services like Twitch grow in popularity, Twitter must be hoping that its new streaming capabilities appeal to celebrities and YouTube personalities, whose use of the platform to chat with fans would raise its profile in the process.

For now at least, the app is only available on iPhone, though fingers crossed an Android edition appears before very long.

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