Currently, the livestreaming landscape is a turf war between Periscope and Facebook Live, and its first casualty was (R.I.P.) Meerkat. Just weeks after the pioneering platform poked its head through the dirt in early 2015, it was an endangered species (after Twitter blocked the app’s access to its social grid); and now, any search for it leads you to another app altogether — a much better one.
Houseparty comes from the team behind Meerkat, and it too is a livestreaming video app; but rather than broadcasting to the whole Internet, Houseparty hosts ongoing online “parties” between friends. Up to eight participants can drop in and out for a chat, a check-in, or just to hang out. You can “wave” to friends to let them know you’re “in the house,” or throw a room together on the fly through SMS invites. Once you create a room, you can leave it open and see what friends (or friends of friends) show up, or lock it down and keep it VIP.
PROAn eight-way group chat may sound like a recipe for chaos, but Houseparty’s clean interface actually feels like a natural enough way to gather without being together. It wouldn’t surprise me if more social networks started adopting this model of group video chat. (That is, I hope the Meerkat gang is ready to get ripped off again.)
CON While there are already more than 1 million people using Houseparty, if you’re (ahem) of a certain age you may find yourself a little lonely. Right now the app feels resolutely suited to millennials (proving useful for everything from study groups to party recaps), and it may be a while before the party comes to you.
MICHAEL ANDOR BRODEURMichael Andor Brodeur can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MBrodeur.