Meerkat who? Introducing Periscope

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SAN FRANCISCO  — Move over Meerkat, there’s a new player in the livestreaming space.

Periscope, acquired by Twitter in January, lets users live broadcast from their mobile devices. Sound familiar? It’s comparable to Meerkat, which was a breakout hit at this year’s SXSW.

Similar to Meerkat, users can live broadcast on Periscope by downloading the iOS app and connecting through Twitter. Your followers get a push notification and can watch your livestream.

Co-founder Kayvon Beykpour said he envisioned the app being used in a number of scenarios: from live events and protests (think Ferguson) to more personal moments — a baby’s first steps or a pet’s burial.

Beykpour and his co-founder came up with the idea when contemplating whether to go forward with a planned trip to Istanbul during the 2013 protests.

“I wanted to see a picture or a feed of what’s happening on the street that my hotel is on,” Beykpour said. “Joe [Bernstein, his co-founder] and I kept talking about how there’s probably thousands of people who walk by that street everyday with smartphones and high-speed network connections. Why isn’t there a way for us to see what’s happening right now, right there?”

Their solution has more options than the current version of Meerkat.

Periscope users can opt to share a stream publicly or only share with a select group of users. They also have the option to live broadcast within the app or on Twitter. The app prompts users to send hearts if they like what they’re seeing and provides better options for discovering new streams.

Since launching at the end of February, Meerkat has made a big splash with early tech adopters, attracting users like Jimmy Fallon and Snoop Dogg. Periscope, which launches out of beta Thursday, already has an assortment of beta users: from the Department of the Interior to celebrity chef Mario Batali.

And while Meerkat may currently have the buzz, Periscope has one big advantage: full access to Twitter’s social graph.

This makes it easier for people to connect with their friends using the service. Meerkat initially had access but it was quickly curtailed. Founder Ben Rubin told CNNMoney the move was “a speed bump,” but says the company has plans to release a new discovery tool.

While livestreaming is nothing new, better technology combined with the wide adoption of social networks has created a new way for apps to take advantage.

“Software and hardware is at a place where developers can do fantastic things,” Beykpour said.

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