Twitter bought livestreaming startup Periscope back in January and confirmed the acquisition through a retweet.

Periscope, a livestreaming app that hasn’t even officially launched yet, gives broadcasters the ability to deal directly with people watching the live video stream in real-time. It’s a fascinating concept that turns you and your smartphone into a combination live news crew, host and live feedback channel where people can ask questions directly to you, the broadcaster. It could be a robust tool for citizen journalism.

Periscope will eventually launch as an app separate from Twitter, and it will allow users to view both live and previously recorded video streams. To get people to watch your stream, you can link to it on Twitter, have it appear on the Periscope home screen or invite a few friends to watch in private. Those friends, or strangers, can then post comments that overlay on top of the stream. Viewers can also send animated, fluttery hearts to show their approval of the Periscope broadcaster. Even better, the comments and animated icons replay in sync in previously saved videos.

For comparison, the super popular livestreaming app Meerkat that has recently captured the attention of the tech community does not allow for the archiving of streamed video, nor does it give you the option to start private streams with friends. Once you stream on Meerkat, that’s it. There is no saving, and it’s public-only.

All the same, companies like Twitter are poised to take advantage of the imminent livestream boom. Services like Twitch have allowed people to stream themselves and their commentary for a while, but that has mostly served the specific purposes of hardcore gamers and eSports enthusiasists in the comfort of their homes or studios. Apps like Meerkat and Periscope, with simple and streamlined interfaces and little to nothing in the way of barriers, will reach a much broader audience thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher have already latched onto Meerkat, which is usually a clear sign of an app or service’s potential.

Here is the initial tweet Periscope posted about the acquisition:

Twitter retweeted Periscope’s tweet from its official account. And then Sara Haider, former software engineer at Twitter and current Android engineer at Pericope, tweeted that the acquisition respresents something of a homecoming:

You can sign up for the Periscope beta here.

Photo: Andrew Mager | Flickr

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