Smartphone-video broadcasting app Meerkat has added several new features that could help it regain footing after being outshined by competitor Periscope over the last month.
Meerkat and Periscope are among apps that stream smartphone video to people tuning in from the app or a Web browser. Meerkat added thousands of users in March because a connection to Twitter's database made it easy turn one's Twitter followers into Meerkat followers.
But Twitter cut the link just before starting to market its own app, Periscope, which some tech critics say has more superior features. Periscope is now among the top 10 most downloaded social-networking apps on the Apple App Store while Meerkat sits dozens of spots behind.
Over the weekend, Meerkat started striking back. It released an update for its Apple app that pulls from people's phone contacts to help them nab new followers. People who manage a Facebook page for a business, celebrity or organization now can post links to a Meerkat broadcast directly from the app. And a broadcaster is able to see an icon that lets them know when their live stream is featured on the app's home page.
Meerkat also has an Android app. Periscope does not. Another distinction for the time being: Scrolling through Meerkat feels like wandering through a small community while Periscope is more of a gateway to places worldwide.
The two apps also have a competitor in YouNow, which also allows broadcasting from desktops and laptops and doesn't require a Twitter account. YouNow viewers can also send money to live-streamers they enjoy.