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Apple's iPhone app of 2015 is Periscope

Kayvon Beykpour, chief executive and co-founder of Periscope, right, and Joe Bernstein, a co-founder.

Kayvon Beykpour, chief executive and co-founder of Periscope, right, and Joe Bernstein, a co-founder. Photo: Jason Henry / The New York Times

If you noticed video updates this year coming from the likes of celebrities Jimmy Fallon and Ellen DeGeneres, US presidential candidate Donald Trump, citizen journalists or your friends, well, you’re not alone.

The live video-streaming app Periscope took off big-time in 2015; now, Apple has named it the coveted iPhone App of the Year in its annual year-end ranking of the best in mobile tech. “This game-changer made sharing and watching live videos an instant obsession,” said Apple in offering the nod.

The company also announced its favourite games of the year in Lara Croft Go for iPhone and Prune for iPad. The best iPad app award was given to Robot Factory. You can see the full list of awards for your device by opening iTunes.

Periscope co-founder and CEO Kayvon Beykpour says he was “shocked” to get the news. “This is one of the most prestigious honours you can be given.”


Periscope launched in March, but had already been snapped up by Twitter for $US86 million shortly before the debut. The app, which is available for Apple and Android devices, has been downloaded over 10 million times. Using it is simple: You open the app, click broadcast, title your subject, start recording and now your Twitter followers can tune right into your video feed.

The idea for Periscope was to share the world live, using smartphone technology.

“We wanted to build a teleportation device,” Beykpour says. “We wanted you to see the natural wonders of the world from the comfort of your couch. We want you to feel like you’re there.”

Periscope wasn’t the first app to offer live video streams. Justin.TV, Ustream, Hang w/, Meerkat and others predate Periscope, but none has reached critical mass like Periscope has.

Meanwhile, Periscope could be facing its biggest competitor yet. The 1.5 billion-strong social network Facebook recently added Live Video as a test, and after the initial test with celebrities and journalists, Facebook says more of its members will begin to see it showing up in their status updates. But Beykpour isn’t worried.

“If we spent time worrying about what competitors were doing, we wouldn’t get any work done,” he says. “So bring it on.”

In past years, other app of the year winners include the brain-training game Elevate (2014), Duolingo for language learning (2013) and video effects app Action Movie FXin 2012.

Google also put out a year-end “Best” list this week of apps, but without editorial comment. Top of the Google Play “Best” list is Flipagram, which marries your Camera Roll photos with music to create little music videos that can be shared on Instagram and Facebook.


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