Facebook is turning its public figures-only Mentions app into a handheld video studio with a slew of new Live broadcasting features rolling out the next few weeks. Mentions on iOS and Android will let broadcasters control brightness and mirroring through an adjustments tray, add category tags, set up comment blocklists, trim their video replays and see their audio, battery and connectivity levels in a broadcaster status bar. Social media managers can also now draft Live video announcements for their celebrity clients to review, and send the star reminders to start broadcasting.
These features should reduce the anxiety of stars to go Live on camera by giving them more options to make themselves look their best. If Facebook can combine the urgency and intimacy of Live video with the production quality of recordings, it could inspire stars to fill the News Feed with one-of-a-kind content they can’t see on Twitter or Snapchat.
Here’s a breakdown of the features, and why they’ll be useful during broadcasts:
- Brightness: Broadcasts at night, in dark rooms, or in music venues may be too dark to see, but now stars can boost the light.
- Mirroring: Normally, Live videos are recorded mirrored, which makes it easier and more natural for the broadcaster. But this can make text and brand names unreadable or screw up a signature look, so now Mentions users can disable mirroring.
- Category Tags: Facebook’s search feature and video hub depend on voluntary tags from content creators. Now broadcasters can add these tags before they go Live to enhance discoverability.
- Comment Blocklists: Comments come in Live and are overlaid on the broadcasters screen by default, which can be distracting or abusive if people send hateful comments. Now broadcasters can select words that aren’t allowed in comments.
- Replay Trimming: Live videos sometimes start with an intro, a little fumbling into position or the broadcaster delaying the real content until more viewers tune in. Now they’ll be able to trim off the start and finish of the video to ditch downtime and production issues.
- Connectivity Indicator: It takes strong bandwidth to broadcast Live without the video quality plummeting or cutting out entirely. This indicator will let creators know if their signal is strong enough to broadcast, and alert them if they’re moving into an area of poor connectivity so they can turn around.
- Battery Level: Live broadcasting burns battery fast, which can lead to an abrupt end if a streamer’s phone dies. Seeing the battery level even during full-screen video broadcasting will help stars give a proper conclusion and say goodbye before they cut out.
- Audio Level: It’s tough to tell if your phone’s microphone is picking up your voice, catching too much background noise or maxing out the volume mid-broadcast, but this indicator will provide feedback
- Prompts and Drafts: Top public figures have a team of social media experts helping them reach their followers, and now those teams will be able to draft descriptions of Live broadcasts so all a star has to do is hit record. And, if they forget, the teams can send them a reminder to get on camera.
Facebook launched its Mentions app back in 2014 to give special treatment and features to professional content creators — something other apps like Snapchat have refused to do. Facebook Live’s direct competitor Periscope has seen downloads fall off as its parent company Twitter struggles.
Periscope did recently launch Periscope Producer, which allows broadcasts from professional video equipment similar to Facebook’s Live API, but its app lacks many of the bonus features and controls found on Facebook.
Today’s updates could make Live videos look more polished. But that’s not the only kind of real-time content Facebook is pushing. In the last week it announced Live 360 and Live Audio broadcasts, plus Live streaming from Oculus VR to News Feed. These are all in testing with limited partners before wider roll-outs next year. Facebook is betting big on the Live medium, but top content creators will need hand-holding to fill it with stuff worth watching.