How To: Live Stream from Mobile Devices

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Why Stream?

To Tell Truth, Entertain, Get Famous, Enjoy

Mobile streaming becomes an integral part of mainstream media. Whenever we browse for news from big sports events like World Cup, or music concerts and events, or reports from remote countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, or conflict zones like Egypt, Irag, Afghanistan, or today Ukraine, where we know we can no longer rely on CNN or BBC to tell us the truth as it is, we seek it elsewhere online. YouTube has become the main source of revealing videos incriminating governments and authorities of their war crimes, or showing the police atrocities in ‘civilized’ countries. However, be wary of video authenticity when you rely on YouTube videos – some 2-year old video from Syria may very well be re-uploaded with a title about Israeli or Palestinian teenagers this year, and you might get easily misguided.

Online streaming, on the other hand, is perfect in itself – the streamer and the viewers are in the same reality, time and date, although streaming videos can be saved and watched later. Nevertheless, nothing compares to watching live video of Maroon 5 show atop a skyscraper, street fights in Egypt, or Nazi feast in the Ukraine. If we had mobile streaming back in the late 90s in Yugoslavia, significantly more Americans would have known what a ‘humanitarian war’ really means.

I talked to several streamers, both novice and gurus, and they say it’s addictive, too. ‘Nothing compares to being able to stream important live events to people, receive their feedback, support and appreciation,’ said one of them. ‘Not only is it a great adrenaline rush to see viewers count quadruple within minutes, but the comments, both negative and positive, keep me focused, as I try to capture the intensity and very nature of the moment.’ Nathan B. Grant, an Occupy-focused Ustreamer published this insightful article on the role of streaming in modern journalism, ‘Because of the difficulty deleting streamed recordings, when the police get out of line, become violent, and make arrests, streaming is one of the most important mediums with which to capture these moments.’

Some successful streamers even manage to profit from voluntary contributions to their BitCoin or PayPal wallets, but don’t get carried away with fantasies of getting rich. If you want to do it on a regular basis, you will need to invest a bit in equipment.

How to Stream?

Connection

Before we proceed, keep in mind you will need stable Internet connection. You can either have an unlimited plan with your carrier (mind the data caps though), or connect to public WiFi hotspots. In conflict zones, streamers post their requests on local forums to regular home users to take down their WiFi passwords and let streamers connect. That is a bit on a desperate side, but you must know your resources.

Likewise, you can buy a mobile hotspot device, just make sure it’s not location-dependent. Clear Hotspot Voyager used to very popular, but after it’s been acquired by Sprint, connection speeds fell, with frequent disconnect problems.

Battery

Relying on your device’s battery alone may put a sudden end to what was beginning to be a lot of fun. If you want to be serious about streaming, invest in external lithium-ion battery for your smartphone and hotspot. The data varies upon device, but iPhone 4s battery last up to 1.5-2 hours of streaming, Android devices may last less. You may want to check Energizer XP18000, or any other that fits your budget. The neat part with Energizer is you can charge up to 3 devices simultaneously, while smartphones can have their lives extended for up to 42 hours extra.

Get Social

You will need a Twitter account to build up your audience. You may not have hundreds of followers from the start, but provided you deliver quality streaming on hot topics, you will be noticed, shared and followed, and Twitter is a great tool to grow that followers base.

Streaming Apps              

Of course, we turn to apps, and weeding out Google Play and iTunes legitimate titles from tons of garbage was both fun and frustrating. We want something that:

  • Is easy to set up and start streaming
  • Has some viewers base
  • Is free

So, here is PocketMeta list of live video streaming apps.

Justin.TV

Justin tv

Pretty easy in use, it lets you live stream over 3G or WiFi, saving your videos automatically on the web, and sharing your stream on Twitter and Facebook. Besides live streaming, you can also watch live streams from over 115 countries worldwide. You can also chat with your viewers and other streamers, search and filter streams, favorite and follow streamers and much more.

It’s convenient and you can even change the title of your streaming while you are already in the process. The quality is good, with decent resolution and an unnoticeable lag time between the action of streaming and what your viewers are watching on the web. You also get your streamer’s account you can customize with your profile picture and title. The only nag here is the advertisement.

TwitCasting

Twitcasting Live

This app is on the list because it allows you to stream even when you are using unstable 3G network, while perhaps the quality of the image may not be stellar, but you will be able to deliver the news on time. You can share your stream on twitter and other social networks, exchange comments with your viewers and followers.

It’s easy to use and it doesn’t require registration – you just log in with your Facebook or Twitter account, sending out notifications to your followers and friends when you go live. One tap of a button – and you start live streaming, while your followers will be able to watch your streaming on their mobile devices and PC browsers. If they want to watch it on their smartphones, they will need to download TwitCasting Viewer app.

The app also has a collaboration feature where up to four viewers can join the streaming and stream together. This app also connects to Bluetooth headphones and microphones and saves your video on the service website, while another nifty feature is it sends your subscribers a push notification when you are ready to stream. The lag is insignificant, while the perfect Twitter integration, ability to stream while on poor connection and push notifications to subscribers make it a great option.

Bambuser

  • Cost: free
  • Download: Android
  • Download: iOS
  • More: http://bambuser.com/broadcasts

Bambuser

Bambuser website looks awesome and professional, while social network integration is perfect. The media resolution depends on your smartphone and connection speed. You can send tweets and post to your Facebook and Twitter friends, Google + and Digg community when you’re ready to stream. Also, you can embed your live stream into any webpage using I-frame code you’ll find on your profile page, so you can post your live streams directly onto your blog or website.

Some will also find geo-tagging feature nifty for instances when they want to attach location to their live broadcasting. It also has a chat room to exchange comments with viewers.

Bambuser works great even when you are broadcasting low latency live streaming using 3G or Wi-Fi. You can also broadcast in private, limiting your audience to the few of the trusted ones.

It does require registration, but it’s free and you will enjoy an advanced integrated dashboard with your social accounts management. Bambuser suggests you browse to m.bambuser.com, find your smartphone make and model and download corresponding application, but my guess it goes down to OS.

LiveStream

Livestream

Livestream is currently one of the go-to places alongside Ustream when you want fresh, entertaining or blood chilling streams delivered right now. You can both watch and broadcast live from your Android or iOS smartphone. You can also follow your friends in the community and watch celebrities’, organizations’ and events’ live streams, and receive notifications whenever channels you subscribe to go live.

LiveStream features more than 75,000 live events each month, and you can search and filter for streams, and share them via Twitter, SMS, emails and Facebook, like and comment on any video or status.

It features its own in-built live streaming camera, which adapts to your network conditions, be it Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G speeds, and adjusts image quality correspondingly. You can chat with viewers while streaming, post updates, status changes and images on your profile page, even when you are streaming. LiveStream has it all – social networks integration, smart adaptable camera, possibilities to interact with your audience, and it’s free.

UStream

Ustream

Smartphone, tablet, big and small – Ustream is currently the number one place where live streaming resides. It has a huge viewer base, but most importantly it’s one of the first to pop up in anybody’s search results when they are looking for any live streaming event.

It’s easy to set up and maintain; there are no fees, but your viewers will have to watch an occasional ad, which does not happen too often, though.

You can also chat with your viewers, and they chat among themselves, but you can grow a really substantial audience with social networks integration. The mobile app has a nifty Quick Broadcast widget, which lets you start live streaming with a single tap from your main screen. Of course, the streaming gets saved, so anyone can watch it later.

Vimeo

Vimeo

With Vimeo you can create public and private live streams, upload and manage your streams. Besides the thousands of great channels to watch, Vimeo is a great tool to broadcast your experiences, too. The quality is great, but also depends on your device and connection.

You can download your Vimeo videos to your device, search and filter videos, upload HD footage pausing and resuming (so bad connections don’t ruin the feast), replace videos, and take full advantage of social networks integration. Vimeo also gives you detailed stats on your account views, likes and comments, while your viewers have a convenient interface to share, like and comment on your live streams.

Final Words

It might be worth mentioning privacy and security concerns in relation to big social events. Mind your language and the things you say about yourself, as well as think twice before connecting your primary Twitter account or email to live streaming service when you plan to stream social unrest episodes. Think browser sessions, cookies, IPs. Simply put, if you are reporting something serious, with a scandalous potential, take preventive measures beforehand, not after. Nonetheless, remember that whatever information your smartphone knows about you will be available to analysis at the Big Bro’s headquarters, or anyone with decent hacking knowledge to cherry-pick and point you as a rebel instead or a free reporter. To be on the safe side, stream your grandmother’s birthday instead of peaceful unarmed students being pepper-sprayed and beaten by the police. But if you have the guts to dare, have enough wisdom to stay out of trouble.