With the one-year anniversary of its Periscope acquisition fast approaching, Twitter yesterday announced two major updates for Android users of the mobile live-video app. The new features include a Global Map that lets users view live broadcasts and those that can be replayed from around the world, as well as the ability to easily skip forward or back while watching videos.
iOS users of the app are also gaining some new capabilities. Using the 3D Touch feature rolled out by Apple with iOS 9, iPhone 6 and 6s owners can now access Periscope shortcuts for launching public broadcasts, sharing private broadcasts, people searches and “teleporting” (being taken to a random live broadcast somewhere in the world).
Twitter acquired two startups — Periscope and Niche — during the first quarter of 2015, paying a total of $86.6 million for the companies. Periscope did not officially launch until March, and reported in August that it had passed 10 million user accounts. Since the acquisition, Twitter has used the app to live-stream its quarterly earnings calls.
‘Showing the World in Real Time’
“We’ve always thought that Periscope has the potential of showing you the world in real time,” the Periscope team said in a blog post on the Medium Web site. However, the Global Map first made available in June showed locations only for live broadcasts around the world, and was limited to 250 videos.
“At any given point there are thousands of broadcasts live on Periscope and orders of magnitude more replays, so the map was only showing the tip of the iceberg,” the Medium post stated. “The new map launching today has some major improvements.”
For example, the update now shows different icons depending on the type of broadcast: red for live, blue for replays from the past 24 hours. A user of the Android app, which was released in May, can now also drag left or right on any Periscope replay to rewind or fast-forward a video. While pressing down, the user can also view previews of any particular moment in a broadcast.
Twitter’s ‘Big Bet’
In addition to the 3D Touch features rolling out for iOS users, Periscope is also introducing a pinch-to-zoom feature — which has already been available on Apple devices — on Android.
The idea for Periscope, founded by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein, came about while Beykpour was traveling through Turkey in 2013. During protests in Istanbul, he checked for updates on Twitter but thought it would be useful to have an app that let people view videos of what was actually happening as well. Beykpour and Bernstein created the company — then called “Bounty” — in early 2014.
Twitter, which has been struggling to keep the investor community happy by increasing its organic growth, is pinning some hopes on Periscope to achieve that goal.
“We continued to see strong financial performance this quarter, as well as meaningful progress across our three areas of focus: ensuring more disciplined execution, simplifying our services, and better communicating the value of our platform,” CEO Jack Dorsey noted during the company’s most recent earnings call on October 27. “We’ve simplified our roadmap and organization around a few big bets across Twitter, Periscope, and Vine that we believe represent our largest opportunities for growth.”