Meerkat arrives on Android ahead of Twitter's Periscope

In the bitter battle to be your live-streaming option of choice, Meerkat is going for a first-mover advantage to nab users and keep them put.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Meerkat is now available on Google's Android platform. Meerkat

Meerkat, the popular service that lets users live-stream video to their Twitter followers, is now on Android, ahead of Twitter -- its top competitor and the very company it relies on to drive its service.

Meerkat brought its app to the Google Play store on April 30. The free app supports Android 4.2 and up and is currently in beta, so it might need to have some issues worked out before it sheds its beta tag. Meerkat hasn't said when it will launch an update to the app, but it has already proven somewhat popular, tallying between 100,000 and 500,000 installs, according to Google Play's wide-ranged tracker.

There is a bitter battle between Meerkat and Periscope to be the live-streaming option of choice for users. By getting to Android first, Meerkat is going for a first-mover advantage to nab users and keep them put.

In March, Twitter announced the launch of its own livestreaming platform, called Periscope. Like Meerkat at the time, Periscope was only available on iOS and Twitter said that an Android version was "in the works."

In the month or so that Periscope has been available, it's proven popular, according to Twitter. The company said on Wednesday during an earnings call that the livestreaming service had nabbed 1 million users within its first 10 days of availability. It's unknown how that has translated to Meerkat usage, but the tide seems to be turning against the livestreaming startup.

In March, CNET's Jason Parker took both Meerkat and Periscope for a ride, and quickly determined that Twitter's option is superior:

Where Meerkat just has a mostly blank page when there's no activity among people you follow, Periscope has a lot more going on, giving you a constantly changing list of live video right now. It has three featured videos at the top, then a giant list of other videos from all over the world. With the opportunity for discovering new streams it means you'll be more likely to find something you like, and you'll probably start following more people. It also means it's easier to get more involved with Periscope than with Meerkat.

The differences don't end there. There's also a people button, which lets you follow more users so the live videos keep rolling in. With Periscope, like Meerkat, you can make comments and Like what you see. But Periscope also lets broadcasters post GPS information for their location (which is optional), giving you a little map to see exactly where the stream is coming from. Even better, it shows a live representation of which way the broadcaster is facing with a little arrow that turns as the broadcaster moves.

Parker went on to say that "while Meerkat may have started the revolution, Periscope is set to take over, with more features, more ways to get connected, and the power of Twitter behind it all."

Still, Meerkat presses on, and by being first to Android, is getting its hooks into some users who may see value in livestreaming video to their followers. However, Meerkat will need to be careful: Periscope is coming and as of this writing, the Meerkat beta has an average star rating of 2.5 out of 5 from nearly 1,300 users. The largest number of reviewers -- 647 -- gave the app just one star for bugs and other issues.

Meerkat did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Twitter declined to comment.