YouTube has enabled users to live stream video content since 2011, but the function has largely been limited to desktop versions of the platform. Now, smartphone users will be able to stream live video via the YouTube app for Android and iOS, directly to a global audience of viewers.
The move comes as several of Google's competitors roll out and expand their own live streaming technology, including Twitter (through its Periscope app), Facebook (with Facebook Live) and even Yahoo, via Tumblr.
While users are still awaiting a rollout of the function to properly get to grips with it, YouTube has revealed screenshots suggesting that the feature will bear a close resemblance to Periscope, with viewers able to comment on streams in real-time, and broadcasters able to see and interact with the messages.
YouTube has already had a number of successes with live streaming, from millions of people tuning in to watch the Royal Wedding in 2011, to one-sixth of the internet watching Felix Baumgartner leap from space via the platform in 2012, and right up to the present with YouTube's 360-degree live stream of Coachella, which attracted 21m viweers.
"Because it's built right into the YouTube app, mobile live streaming will have all the features your regular videos have – you'll be able to search for them, find them through recommendations and playlists, and protect them from unauthorised uses," said Kurt Wilms, product lead for immersive experiences at YouTube. "And since it uses YouTube's peerless infrastructure, it'll be faster and more reliable than anything else out there."
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