Watching live video on your iPhone is nothing new, but it is becoming increasingly easier to do. More than a year after Ustream launched its live video viewing iPhone app, and followed up with a video publishing app, along with Qik and Kyte, Justin.tv is entering the mobile game with its first iPhone app (which should be available shortly in the iTunes store).
Justin.tv CEO Michael Seibel says they took their time with the app because they wanted to get it right. “We tried not to cut corners,” he says. All the live videos and channels available on the Website can be watched in the iPhone app. You can find videos by looking at the featured channels or by searching. Videos play horizontally in landscape mode, and text chat is built into the app. The chat text is laid across the bottom of the video and can be tapped on to make it disappear. And the audio works both with or without headphones, which apparently isn’t the case with all other iPhone video apps.
Video channels can be saved as favorites, and an upcoming update to the app will add push notifications to tell you whenever one of your favorite channels is on live. Videos can be shared via email.
Where the app falls short is that it is only for watching live videos, not streaming them from your iPhone’s video camera. The issue is that the iPhone API still doesn’t allow apps to access the camera directly. Instead, other “live streaming” video apps have to come up with workarounds, which often involve sending out a succession of camera screen captures at one to two frames per second. Seibel hopes the next iPhone OS 4.0 will allow for direct camera access which would make video uploads from the iPhone much more efficient.
If the iPhone OS 4.0 API makes live video streaming more practical, Justin.tv will include it as a feature in its app, along with the regular Twitter and Facebook broadcasting options. Check out the app and tell us in comments how it compares the other video livestreaming iPhone apps. Was it worth the wait, or is Justin.tv late to the game?