One of the unavoidable truths of living in a world with such rapid technological advances is that trends come and go. Some tech developments take off while others simply fade into obscurity, especially in the world of mobile – remember when QR codes were the next big thing? If you think video apps will remain a fad though, it's probably about time that you have a re-think on the subject.
Facebook and Instagram have already taken brave strides into this space, and with the recent announcement that Tumblr is planning to release its own group video chatting app called Cabana, it seems inevitable that live video will take an ever-growing presence in the mobile world.
In a short space of time, video streaming apps have become the norm, with digital natives taking them to heart. There are two contributing factors to the attractiveness of this technology; one is the range of opportunities it offers for consumers, and the other is how easy it is for app developers to take advantage of, thanks to the constant improvement of mobile hardware.
Here is a round-up of the biggest, best and newest video communication apps currently on the market:
Snapchat is a forerunner in video messaging and live video streaming for mobile, and this unique approach to messaging took the world by storm shortly after its launch in 2011. It started as a way to send photo or video messages to friends, but the platform has constantly added new functionality along the way. 'My Story' allows users to collate all of their snaps from the previous 24 hours and publish them for followers to view. One of the attractions for fans of Snapchat is the fact that videos disappear immediately after being viewed.
Facebook Live has been around for more than a year now, and its popularity has grown significantly in that time. According to the social media giant, one in five videos published on Facebook are now live, with individuals, companies and broadcasters alike taking advantage of the functionality to broadcast live shows, publish breaking news or simply have a bit of fun and let their friends know what they're up to. No doubt Facebook will be expecting this growth to continue. Facebook’s video offering doesn’t stop there either, with new features coming out that allow users to answer the call to ‘let your camera do the talking’.
3) Instagram Live
Instagram soon followed in its owner's footsteps, launching Instagram Live at the end of last year. The premise is similar – users simply broadcast a live video using a smartphone. Initially there was a key difference, as the videos were no longer accessible after they'd been broadcast – unlike with Facebook Live, where videos have always been viewable after being recorded. However, Instagram later introduced the option to save live videos created through the app.
4) Tumblr's Cabana
An unlikely contender in the live video streaming game, blogging platform Tumblr is now getting in on the act with a new app called Cabana. From a functionality point of view, there's no real connection with Tumblr's main line of business, but this bold move demonstrates just how popular video communication is becoming. The app allows users to watch videos on YouTube while sharing their reactions and chatting, via their mobile cameras, with up to five friends at a time.
5) The best of the rest
A lot of the big names in social media are launching their own live video broadcast efforts, and there are several independent apps on the market too. YouTube offers live broadcasting functionality, and Twitter bought Periscope in 2015 when the social media juggernaut recognised the demand for live video technology among its users. This capability is now available directly through the Twitter app. One of the earliest entries to the market is Meerkat, which, although no longer available, has been superseded by Houseparty, a video chatroom service created by the same team that allows up to eight people to chat at once using their mobile cameras.
Watch this space
All of the apps described here offering video streaming capabilities are focused on just that. But it's likely that as the technology gains traction, more apps will incorporate the functionality as an individual element within their multi-faceted offerings. A glance at Product Hunt's list of apps that use live streaming technology should be enough to tell you that this is a trend that won't go away in a hurry, so watch this space for more developments.
This shift demonstrates how mobile video is growing in popularity, to the point where it's now seen as a standard method of communication. Younger consumers, in particular, expect to be given the opportunity to communicate using video technology, and replacing standard surveys with video surveys is a great way to take advantage of this behaviour.
If you've got any other examples of video tools that we've missed or something to say about the examples we've given here, please comment below – you can even include a link to a video response if you like!