Whenever I mention to people that I am obsessed with streaming video apps, I almost always get the same response – why would you want to stream real-time video from your phone? What about your privacy? Well, when you have journalism in your blood, the ability to transmit as much information from your location, no matter where you are, is invaluable. It’s for that reason that I’ve always wanted to find the perfect app to stream live video from my Android smartphone.
You may have your own requirements for such an app, but in my particular case, I really wanted something that is: (1) extremely easy to set up, (2) extremely fast and convenient to start capturing video, and (3) produces high-quality video instantly on the web.
With those three requirements in mind, I first turned to MUO to see what we already offer. Simon covered streaming video from your PC to your mobile device – but of course that’s not quite what we had in mind, wrong direction (cool apps though!). We’ve also covered a lot of apps where you can stream from your computer to the web, like Grant’s review of Livestream, or Joel’s review of XSplit.
5 Apps to Stream Live Mobile Video
Grant did review three apps where you can stream video from your phone, and Qik has always been one of my long time favorites. I decided that these days, with resolution quality of mobile video blossoming and with bitrates in data plans screaming, there has to be a wider selection.
Going out in search of those apps was really fun. Yes, I found a bunch of junk apps that either captured really low-quality video off my 5 megapixel camera, or the app-web connection had so many failures that it was a complete annoyance to use.
Thankfully, I did find 5 apps to choose from that really fit the bill when you want to stream live video from your smartphone, for either all of the world, or just for a select circle of friends and family. The first of those is Justin.tv. Here’s what the streaming panel looks like from the phone.
The screen is blank because screen captures can’t capture moving video, but what you can see from this is that you can change the title displayed on your video on the fly during your streaming process. All you have to do to start streaming is tap the big red button and you’re live on the web. As you can see, you can also chat from your phone with any viewers that are checking out your stream.
My first online star that I streamed live is our Pug, Lucy. She was actually awake here, but she was hiding her ugly little face from the cell phone, which was propped up on the kitchen table and aimed at her as I was taking this snapshot at the website on my computer.
Quality at Justin.tv is very good – great resolution and very little lag time between the action and what’s shown on the web. You get your own broadcast page that you can tailor with your own profile picture and customized title.
The only drawback here is that every 15 seconds or so, your live stream changes to an annoying (and in my opinion much too long) commercial.
I actually really wouldn’t mind this at all if it only happened say, once every 60 seconds or so, but the frequency of the commercials at Justin.tv is just ludicrous. I know the ads pay the bills, but at this frequency it makes the entire experience nearly unusable. With that said, I kept it on this list because if the quality and performance is worth the trade-off with ads, then you may actually want to opt for this one.
I think that the one app I really liked the most was TwitCasting Live. Unfortunately it was also the one with the lowest quality video output on the web, but you’ll see why I like it so much.
Here is the screen on your phone from which you can launch your live broadcast. As you can see, it’s well integrated with your Twitter account (after you give it permission of course).
It shows you your recent Twitter stream right on your phone, and under the stream you have the option to initiate live streaming, or post a tweet right from this same page.
The display on the webpage really seems to shrink the display down quite a bit – I’m not sure why that happens. I could see on other apps that my entire face could be captured from this distance, but in this app it only captured the upper three quarters.
I think it actually magnifies the display slightly, so the quality itself isn’t stellar, but it isn’t that bad either – especially if you’re considering broadcasting from a remote location while you’re live on the scene of some event you want to tweet about. I noticed very little lag, so I’m assuming the service compresses your stream for faster transmission. I love it that I can immediately publish the live stream link to Twitter. There’s also a section on your account page where you can post to Twitter as well.
This is what the Twitter posting page looks like when you are tweeting from the phone app.
What I like about Twitcaster is that if I find myself in the middle of a news event and I want to tweet about it with live video, this is the first app I’m going to reach for, just because it’s so fast and easy to launch the stream and immediately tweet it to my Twitter stream.
If you want to make use of a video streaming app that is a little more versatile across multiple social networks, then Veetle may be the one for you. The cool thing about Veetle is not only is it easy to launch live streaming from your phone, but it’s also easy (and rather fun, I might add) to browse all of the live streams already going on across the network.
The video streaming quality on your actual viewing page on the site is impressive. Of course there’s a slight tradeoff with about a 5 or 6 second delay between when the action happens and when it displays on the website.
Streams can be downloaded or shared straight from the webpage. You can also authorize Veetle to share out your live stream to social networks like Twitter or YouTube. And, if you enable the GPS feature in the app settings, you can also update the page with your current location, along with the live stream.
You can review all of your past streams right from the Veetle app itself.
When you’re ready to broadcast again, just tap “Go Live“, and you’re streaming again!
Similar to Veetle is Bambuser – however, I must say that I personally like Bambuser better. Everything just seems more professionally done – the design of the webpage where your video is streamed and the integration with social networks. The one drawback is that the video resolution itself on your page isn’t quite as high as Veetle.
This time, I decided to use our family rabbit as the star for this live stream.
Sharing out your stream to your favorite social networks was just as easy as any other service reviewed here. I posted a notice about my ongoing live stream to my Facebook account with one click.
Bambuser offers sharing to lots of other sites including Twitter, Digg, Google Plus and more. You can also embed your broadcast stream right into any page by using the Iframe code provided on your Bambuser profile page.
That would be a really cool way to offer live video broadcasts right from your own blog or website. And like Veetle, Bambuser lets you broadcast your location along with the live feed. It also offers a live chat room on the site, so that if you’re at a computer while streaming you can actively chat with anyone watching your feed.
How would this be useful? Well, if you’re using your phone as a webcam to stream a live online show, then you’d want the ability to chat with the people watching your show. Bambuser is perfect for this.
MAARS VtweetIT is a streaming app that’s about as simple as you can get. There are no bells and whistles here, but I think because of that the update time on the feed is excellent – almost no lag as far as I could tell. The quality of the stream is similar to Twitcasting – so if you’re looking for speed and simplicity over resolution and features, then this is the app for you.
As you can see, it’s connected with the major social networks, and this one also lets you embed the feed on your own page through iframe code as well.
As you can see, there are lots of options when it comes to streaming live video to the whole world straight from your mobile phone. Qik is certainly not the only player out there, and I think at least a few of the options on this list can easily compete.
What it really comes down to is what you’re looking for – simplicity and speed, or quality and features? Once you know exactly why you want to stream, then you can decide which app is the perfect one for you.
Did you try any of these apps? Which is your favorite, or do you know of any others out there that are good for streaming live video? Share your thoughts and insights in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Businessman Sending a Picture Via Shutterstock
Explore more about: Online Video.