How to live stream from your smartphone
Want to start live streaming on your smartphone? Read our guide to getting started
Want a way to keep up with your favourite bloggers and brands, and watch behind-the-scenes content from the biggest award shows and events?
Thanks to apps like Meerkat and Periscope, you can stream these live videos to your smartphone.
And now with the launch of Facebook Live, there are even more ways for you to watch. Here’s everything you need to know about live streaming.
What is live streaming?
These apps offer users the chance to access and broadcast live streams of pretty much anything they want.
Whereas in the past you could watch and upload pre-made videos on sites like YouTube, this gives you the action as it happens. Some of the most popular channels cover:
- Comedy – whether its people doing comedy routines, commenting on current events or performing crazy stunts, comedy is big in the live streaming world
- Gaming – watch players show off their gaming moves on everything from Fifa to Halo
- Events – big companies are using the apps to stream from events like the Oscars, festivals and product launches
- Personal – as you can limit who sees the videos on some of platforms, people are starting to use it for personal reasons like catching up with family and chatting with friends
Our 5 step guide to going live
It’s easy to get involved in this growing community – all you need is a smartphone to get started. Here’s how to set yours up for live streaming:
1. Download the app
While the various apps offer slightly different services, the end results are pretty similar. Meerkat and Periscope are aimed solely at live streaming, while Facebook offers the service as part of the current app.
Tip: You might have to wait for Facebook Live as it’s not yet been rolled out to all users.
2. Sign up
Both Periscope and Meerkat allow you to use your phone number to sign up by sending a confirmation code in a text message. Periscope also gives you the option to use your Twitter account. Follow the instructions on giving user names, passwords etc. – all the usual stuff.
Tip: If you sign in with Twitter it could mean your public broadcasts are flagged up with your Twitter followers.
3. Get streaming
Give your broadcast a catchy name to get people excited. With Meerkat, you can also schedule it for another time, letting you record live and stream later. This will free up your hands to respond to comments. There are also options to make it private or public, tag the location and more.
After that it’s a simple matter of pointing your camera at something interesting and you can stream away.
Tip: Meerkat and Periscope are designed with smart phones in mind, so you need to hold your phone vertically. Facebook allows both vertical and horizontal videos, but it’s better to go horizontal for this platform.
4. Play with the extras
There are a number of fun extras on each app. Most offer the option to inform followers on the app or through Twitter that you’re going live, and will let the audience message you in real time – which will show up to all watchers.
Meerkat lets you show photos to your audience, while Facebook allows you to block viewers you don’t want seeing the stream. You can also see live analytics on many of them including who’s watching, where they’re from and how long they watched.
Tip: On Periscope, you can send ‘hearts’ to broadcasters, so don’t be shocked if a number of animated hearts pop up on screen – it just means your audience loves you.
5. What happens to the video?
Facebook keeps your video on your timeline like any other post, while Periscope saves your stream for 24 hours. For Meerkat, it’ll disappear instantly unless you choose the option of saving your stream.
Tip: Remember, people on Periscope can still comment and like your video for 24 hours after its gone live.
While the above services are the big players, the possibilities for live streaming are endless. Here are some of the other channels you can use:
- Witness – if you feel under threat or are a witness or victim of a crime, with the touch of a button you can send a live stream to your emergency contacts
- Samsung USTREAM – aimed at businesses, this produces live content for the USTREAM channel, which is available online and smart TVs
- Twitch – starting as a website streaming people playing video games, the app allows you to film and watch streams wherever you are
- YouTube – the YouTube live streaming service has an additional platform aimed solely at gamers
Google Hangouts – often used in businesses, Hangouts are closed group live streams, great for remote workers.
Want a new phone for live streaming? – see our full range of smartphones.