In the Periscope vs. Meerkat saga, Meerkat has now been first to shed its beta shell in both iOS and Android. Announced via Twitter on May 13th, it is officially available in the Google Play Store.
Being one of the few Android users at Nina Hale, I figure this is a perfect opportunity to test the new app.
Let’s start with the good. When Meerkat did work, it was pretty cool. Just as with the iOS version, you give your stream a topic, and push it live via Twitter where mobile and desktop users can watch. You can even schedule your live stream for a future date, and it will alert followers of the date and time you plan to launch (and, when your scheduled date arrives, Meerkat will alert you that “your followers are waiting for you to stream”). In terms of engagement, you’re able to interact with those viewing your feed either via microphone or the chat within the interface. If someone likes what you’re streaming, there is a ‘like’ button that will send the host a notification within the interface. Those watching can also “re-stream,” which will push the Meerkat link through their Twitter account in what’s essentially a retweet. Overall, fairly simple to use.
Now for the bad. Others have described it as “buggy”, “laggy,” and “crashy,” and frankly, I’d agree.
When I didn’t get stuck in the loading screen and was finally able to publish a stream, it didn’t last long. I had multiple crashes, mostly when trying to switch to a front-facing camera. Plus, my stream would occasionally end in the off chance I did move for more than 30 seconds. (Speaking of 30 seconds, this is about the time it took for my feed to catch up with whatever I was doing.)
Other Meerkat negatives? While the scheduling notification is nice, and you’re able to launch Meerkat through your notification window, if the host doesn’t start their stream within 20 seconds, you’ll be redirected to a page that can relate to a 404 error. Lastly, while I couldn’t recreate the issue myself, multiple users have reported that their live feed is upside down.
Did Meerkat feel rushed to launch the Android app because Periscope is right on its tail? Maybe, and unfortunately, when things are rushed there are errors. Meerkat and its team must fix these bugs before Periscope launches to Android, otherwise it may be in trouble.