Have you noticed an influx of tweets starting with “|LIVE NOW|” popping up on your feed? If the answer is yes you’ve stumbled upon Meerkat, the new iOS app that lets you stream live video to all your Twitter followers at once. It may sound like a stretch, but this convenient mobile app has the potential to make huge waves in the way we broadcast our lives and everything going on in the world around us.

Meerkat was co-founded by Ben Rubin and Itai Danino, as the simplified replacement for a live-streaming startup called Yevvo (alias Air) that Rubin shuttered back in December due to user inactivity. In an interview with The Verge Rubin discussed his reason for this move stating, “There was no heartbeat.” Unlike its flatlined predecessor, Meerkat has only been on the market for a few weeks and has rapidly amassed a user base in the tens of thousands. So how does it work?

In order to use Meerkat, you first need a Twitter account. This is due to the fact that the Meerkat platform is basically “piggybacking” on Twitter’s API and the information provided by its users in order to create a one-to-many communication experience. Within the app, you have a choice to create a new live-stream in that moment, or schedule one for later.

Image via The Verge

Image via The Verge

If you choose to create one immediately, the live broadcast triggers a tweet containing a link to your stream, as well as a notification that is sent to your followers who are also on Meerkat. Simply Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 5.26.14 PMtap the link and be transported into someone’s home, a bar, a press conference with the President, that music festival you really wanted to go to…the list could go on forever.  Followers viewing on Twitter have the ability to interact with the host through comments that are sent within Twitter’s distribution system as @ replies.

Image via Variety.com

Image via Variety.com

Unless the host saves the video to the mobile device, the stream disappears in a manner similar to how snaps vanish in Snapchat, but the tweet including the link to the old steam does stay on-line (“What happens on Twitter stays on Twitter”). Additionally, followers can retweet the stream and further expand the audience.

Now, it’s obvious that Meerkat is nowhere close to being the first live-streaming technology or having the best video quality on the market, so what is making it so popular? It all comes down to convenience and function, and Meerkat seems to have hit the nail on the head.

In an interview with Mashable, Rubin discussed his motivations for creating the app saying, “The real vision is – it sounds very cliché – it’s something we call ‘spontaneous togetherness.’ Can we just be together in the moment?” You don’t need to be a mediaphile to see why an app that satisfies our inherent desire for a raw, real-time perspective, while simultaneously reaching the masses is turning some heads.

However, it is true that there is no way of categorizing these streams (yet) and a good portion of current Meerkat feeds resemble the early days of Twitter where the most exciting content you found was as groundbreaking as anything @coffee_dad tweets. But isn’t that the point? Right now, Meerkat is simply trying to find its footing, and users will continue to experiment until they figure out everything this new toy has to offer. Ironically enough, the only thing holding Meerkat back at the moment, is Twitter.

Amidst all the hoopla surrounding the new app at SxSW, Twitter notified Rubin this past Friday that Meerkat would only be allowed limited access to their social graph. Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.10.22 AMThis could prove to be an issue considering the app relies on this social graph to give the user a pre-existing group of followers, and to send out notifications to these followers when a new stream is created. While the app is still allowed to use Twitter credentials and post videos as before, the lack of a social graph means that users will need to repopulate followers for their account, and discovering new users to follow will be a bit more challenging.

Despite this setback, Meerkat’s community director, Ryan Cooley, told Mashable that the user base has actually expanded by at least 30% since Twitter’s decision. With this much resilience, it appears that Meerkat might just be here to stay.

Have you tried Meerkat? What’s a good use case? Share your thoughts in the comments!