Update on January 28, 2016: Facebook announced that live video streaming is now available to all iPhone users in the United States. Android owners, sorry, you’re not included yet.
From Facebook: “To share live video, tap on Update Status and then select the Live Video icon. You can write a quick description and choose the audience that you want to share with before going live. During your broadcast, you’ll see the number of live viewers, the names of friends who are tuning in and a real-time stream of comments. When you end your broadcast, it will be saved on your Timeline like any other video, which you can then delete or keep for your friends to watch later.”
Original article: A few months ago Facebook introduced live-streaming video on its platform, but the new feature was only available to celebrities such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Serena Williams, and Luke Bryan. Starting today, Facebook will be rolling out the service to all users. Soon, the hoi polloi will be able to live-stream from the platform just like their favorite celebs.
In August, Facebook unveiled its “Live” feature but only to celebrities with a verified account, allowing those users to broadcast video of themselves while fans and followers commented. The videos were then permanently available for users to view later.
To many users, the feature seems to be Facebook’s response to popular apps like Meerkat and Periscope — currently the most-used platforms among those that let users broadcast live videos. Except that, among other differences, videos on Meerkat and Periscope are only live for 24 hours and are then deleted. While you do have the option to delete your live-streamed videos from Facebook, unlike the other platforms, they can be saved and re-watched anytime in the future.
Facebook Live videos are said to appear quickly in your feed and include push notifications that send alerts of the broadcast to those who have recently interacted with the page. According to Kurt Wagner at Re/code, another key distinction between Meerkat and Periscope on the one hand and Facebook Live on the other, is the ability to live-stream only to your friends and family, rather than the entire population. And, not only can you live-stream yourself but you can subscribe and follow live videos from your connections in addition to those publicly shared by celebs and public figures
A small group of iPhone users in the U.S. were able to access the feature today, but it will become available to more users in the near future. Facebook Live is just one of the many new features and updates planned for the platform. Others in the works include the expansion of Instant Articles to other locations including India and Latin America.
Facebook is also launching Collages, a feature that groups photos and videos that were taken together into a small album. It’s similar to Google’s Story feature that is baked into the new Google Photos app, except that it only brings the photos or videos into a scrolling collage, without much context. Users can edit collages by adding, removing, and re-arranging the photos and videos, and can also add a title. The feature is rolling out to iOS users today, and will be available on Android “early” next year.
The social network also gave a glimpse of something it’s beta testing: a new way to share. “As we were building Live we needed to reconsider the process of sharing from mobile devices,” Facebook Product Managers Vadim Lavrusik and Thai Tran say in the announcement. “We are currently piloting a new design with a few people on iPhone and Android where they can now tap ‘What’s on your mind?’ at the top of News Feed to see a drop down menu of all the different options they can share. This will allow us to include new sharing features in the future.”