Tonight, Google’s Android platform is getting another application that gives it functionality iPhone users can only gaze at longingly. This time, it’s Ustream, a mobile streaming application that lets you broadcast video directly from your phone. The application will be available on the Android Market by 9 AM PST tomorrow morning.
Ustream isn’t the only option available for streaming video on Android — Qik launched its own version in June. But it’s a very solid debut that comes with some features that Qik doesn’t. CEO John Ham says that one key differentiator for the new Ustream app is the way it handles latency. While competitors can build up a ‘lag time’ over the course of an extended broadcast, Ham says that Ustream uses a low latency connection and optimization both client and server side to keep this to a minimum — in other words, the lag doesn’t build up. In my testing I got a lag time of around three seconds over a 3G connection (nothing to scoff at), and perhaps more importantly the delay didn’t grow over time, which is especially important if you’re going to interact with your viewers through the app’s various community features.
And there are plenty of those: the application allows you to poll your views live during the broadcast, and also supports both Ustream’s integrated chat and Twitter chat. It also supports local recording, which lets you take higher quality video for upload later.
Another great feature: Ustream for Android lets you ‘overtake’ a currently broadcasting stream, provided you’re the owner of the account. For example, we could use the mobile application to take over our CrunchCam stream while we’re on the go and have some breaking news. Then, when we finished our mobile broadcast, the feed would revert to the camera that’s constantly streaming from inside TechCrunch headquarters (you can see a demo in the video below). Very slick.
Ustream also offers some apps for the iPhone, but these don’t let you broadcast straight to the web because Apple has restricted this functionality, despite the fact that the 3GS actually supports video.