*Updated, Qik Live out now*
Over the past few weeks Apple has opened the gates to the world of live video streaming on the iPhone. And I'm not just talking on the new 3GS, we're talking every iPhone model so far. "What???" you might be wondering to yourself if you own a second generation or 3G iPhone, "I thought my phone couldn't even record video?" Well, technically it can, Apple just never allowed for it to until recently.
It started with Knocking's Live Video application being released in the App Store for owners of the iPhone 3G and 3GS models. The application lets users share live video streams with one another over 3G and WiFi connections. It's referred to as "Knocking" on somebodies iPhone. The app doesn't support audio yet and also only broadcasts to that one person you choose to share with. And honestly, I've tried it out several times with my fellow reporter Ronny Kerr here at Vator and we have yet to successfully stream to one another.
Just a couple days after Knocking's shocking approval in the App Store, Ustream's Live Broadcaster was approved. The app lets users broadcast from any model iPhone (2G, 3G and 3GS) to Ustream's audience. If you really want, you can view all sorts of iPhone video streams on the Ustream website under its 'mobile' section. The quality is nothing spectacular but the app does support audio and I've successfully streamed from my iPhone 3G.
Qik, another live video streaming startup has been focused on building the perfect mobile video platform. Its sole focus has been on letting users stream live video from their cell phones so viewers across the Web could induldge in all sorts of live user generated content. The well-known blogger Robert Scoble was shown a demo of Qik running on a Nokia E61i phone back in December of 2007 when Qik was still in development and was blown away saying, "Holy s**t. I can stream live video to you now from anywhere at anytime." Scoble went on to use the application to live stream video interviews and events.
Recently, Qik submitted its application to the App Store and as of yesterday, the app was approved, (app is now available in the App store.) The app functions very similarly to Ustream's application enabling users to stream onto Qik's site and also integrates several social features like sharing links to your mobile streams across Facebook and Twitter. This app is not to be confused with the current Qik iPhone application, only available on the 3GS which lets users record video first, and then upload that video, a significant difference from actually streaming live.
Interestingly, at the same time news started going around about Qik's iPhone application being approved, Ustream sent us an email with an invite to a private beta of its updated "High Quality" application. The update significantly improves the quality of the Live Broadcaster application enabling 640x480 video streaming at 30 frames per second over 3G and WiFi networks. Ustream said since it released its Live Broadcaster application in the App Store it has seen a 10x increase in the number concurrent live mobile broadcasts.
All in all, it seems streaming on the iPhone is catching on and ready to expload- just do a Twitter search and you'll find all sorts of interesting broadcasts from people at parties to sitting in dorm rooms doing nothing. And with the Qik app just about to get approved, we'll see how AT&T reacts to an increase in data usage due to people streaming their lives away.
Image source: Knocking's site