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Facebook updates with live video for iPhone users

By The San Diego Union-Tribune (TNS) - Jan 30,2016 - Last updated at Jan 30,2016

 

Oversharers, rejoice. Facebook is now offering you a way to share even more of your life on the social network — for those times when a photo or recorded video won’t suffice.

The company Thursday introduced the ability for its US users on iPhone to broadcast video live from their smartphones to friends (or the broader public) on the service. The launch expands a late 2015 test of the feature to a more widespread audience, and pits Facebook directly against live-streaming app Periscope, which is owned by Twitter.

The new broadcast option appears as a live video icon at the bottom of the update status box in the Facebook for iPhone app. While streaming video, broadcasters can see a count of live viewers, the names of friends who are watching and any comments. Live broadcasts are then saved to users’ Timelines (aka profiles), just like recorded videos.

Facebook’s live video push pairs nicely with its broader ambitions to rival YouTube and others in the digital video realm. The company, which increasingly promotes video to users in News Feed, announced Wednesday that 500 million people are now watching more than 100 hours of video on the social network each day.

Though live video is not a new concept in social media, Facebook has the power to turn the relatively fringe behaviour into something far more commonplace.

“The release of live-video streaming in the main Facebook app is a significant step forward for this fledgling and new type of self-expression,” said Brian Blau, a Gartner analyst who tracks the social media industry. “Facebook will reshape the live video landscape, which could be good for competitors as more attention will come to live video. But it’s also daunting in that Facebook has such as large presence with consumers who may only choose one live video service to use.”

That could spell trouble for Twitter’s Periscope smartphone app, which has dominated the live video arena since its release in March of last year. Periscope attracted 10 million users in the first four months after its launch, and the app recently added the ability to broadcast from some GoPro devices, which could give it an edge with extreme sports enthusiasts.

 

Facebook, meanwhile, said it had nearly 1.6 billion monthly users as of December 31, 2015. The company plans to roll out the live-streaming feature to users outside the US in the coming weeks.

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