Periscope streams live audio and video from a user’s smartphone that other people can watch and comment on within the app — the link to the livestream can be shared on Twitter as a way to spread the word and boost the audience.
The free app, which is only available on iOS for now, provides immediate competition to Meerkat, a similar livestreaming app that took off at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, earlier his month.
Meerkat, which launched just two weeks before the conference, relies heavily on Twitter’s platform. It uses Twitter login and had used its social graph to help users find people to follow before Twitter cut it off.
Given the relationship between the two products, speculation that Twitter might buy Meerkat made sense, but it bought competitor Periscope instead. Things haven’t been all bad for Meerkat, though. The app has more than 400,000 users, according to CEO Ben Rubin, and it just raised $12 million in a deal that values it at $52 million.
The two apps work in a similar way, but Twitter-owned Periscope is actually more independent from Twitter than Meerkat. Unlike Meerkat, where any Likes and comments are reflected on your Twitter profile, all the engagement on Periscope is kept within the app.
This, of course, was intentional. It’s the same strategy Twitter took with Vine, the standalone video app it also bought in beta. One of the reasons for keeping it separate is that Periscope hopes to be more than a simple live stream and having a standalone product will help it evolve, Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour told Re/code.
One of the other reasons: it didn’t want to mess with Twitter’s identity.
“It’s really hard to change people’s perception of what a product is after it’s been around for seven-plus years,” Beykpour explained. “Though other features deserve to exist within Twitter, I don’t think that’s the right way to launch a new experience that we think is special.”
That doesn’t mean the two products won’t mesh over time. It just won’t happen right away, he added.
Periscope also offers a somewhat unusual format for liking a video. Traditionally, social media platforms have let users hit the Like button once, but on Periscope you can Like a video as many times as you want by tapping the screen.
Liking a post causes a floating heart to appear in the lower righthand corner of the app, and as a broadcaster, you can see in real time which parts of your broadcast are most interesting to the audience.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.