Live-streaming video app Meerkat launched a few weeks ahead of Periscope, Twitter's own take on live-streaming, and for a short while it seemed as though that would be enough to keep Meerkat ahead. Then Twitter limited Meerkat's access to its social graph and suddenly, Meerkat's future wasn't so certain.
Twitter has also done a lot to heighten Periscope's public profile, even urging celebrities to use its app instead of Meerkat. With that kind of pressure, it was clear that Meerkat would need to resort to alternate measures moving forward.
Meerkat managed to beat Periscope to the punch in developing an Android app, and it has also now begun distancing itself from Twitter. An update to the app announced over the weekend introduces Facebook support, including the ability for users to log in with their Facebook account. Users will also be able to post notices of upcoming streams as well as currently airing streams directly to Facebook.
This is an important move, as relying on another company's infrastructure ultimately puts much of Meerkat's fate in the hands of that company. In Twitter's case, the company has every reason to promote Periscope and downplay Meerkat, so adding support for more services is a necessity.
This comes as rumors are circling that Facebook may be looking at acquiring Meerkat. While this is a somewhat obvious move, as the social giant may want its own app to counter Twitter's, it may not be all that easy. The two services operate very differently, and Facebook's nature might not fit live-streaming the same way that Twitter's does, Venture Beat's Ruth Reader points out.
The Meerkat update also added two other features. As a stream increases in popularity, it is marked as "mobbing" and moved to Meerkat's main feed, with an animated Meerkat then appearing to the stream's viewers. Emoji support has also been added.
It isn't likely that the Facebook support and Android app will propel Meerkat back to its former popularity, but this is a necessary move. To see the new features for yourself, check out the updated Meerkat in the App Store or the Google Play Store.