Google has quietly been building a new live streaming app called YouTube Connect, VentureBeat has learned. This service highlights the company’s efforts to double down on live video while also placing it in a position to compete directly against Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live. YouTube Connect will be available on both iOS and Android devices.
Google did not immediately respond for comment.
YouTube Connect has much of the same functionality that you’d already find with Periscope and Facebook Life, according to a source close to the matter. You can log into the app using your Google or YouTube account and immediately begin streaming from your mobile phone. There are chat and tagging features, and a “news feed” that features the latest clips from your friends or those that you’ve subscribed to on YouTube.
Videos will be viewable live within the app, and also on the YouTube site in their respective channels. Previous broadcasts can also be stored in the app, quite possibly through opt-in after you’ve completed the live stream, so your friends can watch the replays. The app does not yet have integrations with Facebook or Twitter that would make it easy for users to share live streams on other social networks.
YouTube Connect comes at a time when Google has fallen behind in the live streaming space, losing ground to apps like Periscope, Meerkat which recently pivoted, and Facebook Live. YouTube does offer live streaming, but through its Creator Studio offering and was also limited in terms of who had access. Now this new app could open the capability to a much larger audience.
Above: The live streaming feature on YouTube’s Creator Studio.
Image Credit: Screenshot
In an interview with Wired, Manual Bronstein, the company’s head of product for consumers, said that “Broadly speaking, we think about YouTube being synonymous with video…live has always been a part of video, and it’s actually always a very exciting part.”
A live streaming app makes sense when you’re thinking about future directions for YouTube, a platform that houses the world’s collection of user-generated videos. Giving content creators the ability to interact with their fans in real-time while on the red carpet, at a major event, or whatever they’re doing is important — why let them slink off to create videos that are posted on Facebook or on Twitter?
Both Twitter and Facebook have placed quite a bit of investment on live streaming events. During Twitter’s Q4 2015 earnings call, chief executive Jack Dorsey highlighted his vision for the company while indicating Periscope’s importance, even adding the service’s CEO to his executive team: “Twitter is live, live commentary, live conversations, and live connections, whether it’s breaking news, entertainment, sports, or everyday topics, hearing about and watching a live event unfold is the fastest way to understand the power of Twitter.”
Mark Zuckerberg also shared that Facebook’s live streaming option is something he’s “excited about.” It’ll likely grow in popularity as more people gain access to it.
YouTube is losing a bit of its luster against these growing services, particularly Facebook and Snapchat. In the past few months, there have been reports around which of these rivals had more videos watched each day — in February, Snapchat reached 8 billion videos viewed, a level that makes it a near equal of Facebook. If YouTube wants to pick up its viewership, a live streaming app is a logical way to go.
YouTube Connect would be the latest standalone app in the YouTube family, joining not only the core service, but also YouTube Capture, which allows you to record and edit footage right on the mobile device.
Although timing on the release is still unspecified, a launch before Google’s I/O developer conference in May seems an obvious timeframe. And it also wouldn’t be farfetched to think that the company would unveil the app with its YouTube stars just like Facebook did with its live streaming option — get biggest names on board and then everyone else will follow.