Facebook Takes On Periscope, Snapchat With New Live Video Features

To begin only verified pages of public figures were given access via the Mentions app, and now that Facebook Live video is available to everyone its popularity is growing. Today a host of new features for the service have been announced including group and event functionality, interactive options and basic editing tools.

Its as though Facebook have gathered the best ideas from Snapchat, Periscope and YouTube Live and jammed them all into their own streaming service.

Image: Facebook

What exactly is Facebook Live being used for? A lot, according to Facebook. Maybe more than you'd expect.

"People are letting their friends discover their hobbies. Parents are using it to share moments in their kids' lives with their extended families. Athletes are giving people a window into their training. Chefs are bringing their fans into their kitchen. Journalists are hosting global conversations on topics they care about. Aspiring musicians can now put on a live concert for their friends. Many people all over the world are using Facebook Live in many different ways to talk to and interact with the people that matter most to them," Facebook said in a statement.

Facebook says the range of content being created was a driving force for the features announced today.

"We're excited to announce new features for Facebook Live to give you more ways to discover, share, and interact with live video, and more ways to personalise your live broadcasts," Facebook said.

The first of these features is the ability to go live in groups and events. Live in groups will see you broadcasting to just the people in the Facebook Group "so you can go live in your family group, or share a workout plan in a fitness group" Facebook suggests. "Live in events means you can go live from a birthday party to allow those that can't make it to join the fun, and a performer can go live backstage to the people whove RSVP-ed to the event to give them a sneak peak".

There is also the ability to use events to schedule a live Q&A session.

"We hope this new ability to both broadcast and watch live video within Groups and Events enables people to connect more deeply with their closest friends, family and the communities of people who share their interests," Facebook said.

So far Facebook Live video interactions have been limited to the usual like, share and comment — with those comments visible as a scrolling timeline at the bottom of the video to creators.

Now there are "Live Reactions" which are exactly what you've been using in newsfeed for the last month or so. You can choose to "Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry" as Facebook calls them, and the reactions animate right on top of the video in real time then disappear — much like the hearts on Periscope.

Facebook says this is so "broadcasters and other viewers can get a sense of how people are feeling at different points during the live video – it's like hearing the crowd applaud and cheer". If a friend reacts to your video or to a video you are both watching together you'll see their profile pic and a little starburst before their reaction appears.

Comments will now be replayed as they happened during the live broadcast when people watch it later, which is pretty handy for creators who react and answer questions throughout the video. "Live video on Facebook is truly interactive as broadcasters engage with their commenters and respond to their suggestions and questions," Facebook says. "In fact, from initial data, we've seen that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos. We want people watching the broadcast after the fact to feel 'in' on the action."

Basic editing is slowly being introduced with the release of five Live filters, with a Snapchat-style drawing/doodling option coming soon.

Facebook are also changing up how Live videos are being discovered. Currently pages that go live with video push a notification to all of their followers automatically. There's now the option to invite a friend to watch any Live video with you via an "Invite" icon on the video itself — it will send them a notification.

Reminiscent of YouTube Live, roll out is beginning today on "a dedicated place on Facebook's mobile app where you can discover live video that the world is talking about, live video from the friends and creators that matter most to you, and live video on topics you're interested in," Facebook says. From that place, you can also search live and non-live videos, and go live yourself via a new video icon in the app.

Like Periscope, can now also use a map to locate Live video content on desktop. "People in more than 60 countries can now share live video, and we've been inspired by all the different global broadcasts," Facebook says. "The Facebook Live Map gives you a window into what's happening in the world right now."

"We've been humbled by all the amazing and creative ways that people have used Facebook Live so far," Facebook says. "And we're committed to creating the best experience for everyone who wants to create, watch and interact with live videos on Facebook."

The new features will be rolling out on iOS and Android over the coming weeks.

Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox went live himself recently to answer questions about the recent annoucnement, and the future of live video on Facebook.

Have you used Facebook Live video? Have you seen it used in a cool way? Tell us about it in the comments!

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