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Live streaming to YouTube on an Android phone: the best and worst apps

I wanted to try live streaming on my Pixel phone, but I don't have access to the YouTube Mobile live stream app, which is still only available to a limited group of Creators (you can watch YouTube mobile live streams here). I decided to try a few of the most popular Android live streaming apps to see how well they work.

What I was looking for:
  1. Easy to use interface
  2. Direct live streaming to YouTube
  3. High quality video
  4. Portrait or Landscape mode
I've excluded apps like Livestream, which focus on their own live streaming community, and don't have any way to export the video file or stream to YouTube directly.

The results were mixed. The easiest to use was Periscope, but that doesn't broadcast to YouTube directly and the recorded video is not high definition.  And I couldn't get InstaLively to stream at all.

However, Live in Five (recommended by +Ileane Smith) is a promising option - it broadcasts directly to YouTube and seems pretty easy to use. It lets you stream either from your camera or from your screen if you want to broadcast your game play.

You can see a playlist of my test videos here or embedded at the end of the article.

Note that to use any app to live stream to YouTube, your channel must have live streaming enabled.

As a technical note, I'm using my Pixel phone running Android 7.1.1 My internet connection is my home wifi with a current speed of ~11.5Mbps upload and 30-50Mbps download.

Read on for links and my first impressions:



Live in Five

Features: 
  • Direct live streaming to YouTube
  • Set the resolution up to 1080p
  • Stream in portrait or landscape, but you can't switch during the stream
Live in Five is by far the best app I tried that streams directly to YouTube. The interface was easy to use and the recording was high quality. I'm going to be playing with it more in the future.

Emoze Live on YouTube

Features: 
  • Direct live streaming to YouTube
  • Select resolution up to 1080p
  • Stream in landscape only
Setting up and starting the live stream in the Live on YouTube app was pretty straightforward and the streaming seemed to go well, but there were serious problems with the video archives.

Two issues: the first is that the app started live streaming significantly before the "you are live" message showed in the app. On one of my streams above I trimmed off the first 15 seconds of me waving my phone about while I was waiting. And much worse than that, the automatic thumbnail for the video was an image taken before the live stream started (in my case, before I had switched to the front camera).

The other issue is that the video archives of both of my videos had issues. The sound is a bit out of sync with the video, and one of the live stream archives just shows a still frame for the first 47 seconds.

I suspect that the app is no longer being maintained. It has not been updated since July 2016 and the Emoze website is unreachable.

InstaLively

Features:
  • Direct live streaming to YouTube, plus Twitter and Facebook
  • No obvious way to change the resolution 
  • Landscape or portrait

I couldn't get InstaLively to work, so I can't review it.  Every time I tried to start the broadcast, I came up with a "Oops! Internet too slow." error message. Since none of the other live streaming apps I tried had that problem, it may be an issue on their end.

The app hasn't been updated since January 2016, which isn't a good sign.

Periscope

Features
  • Direct live streaming to Twitter, download broadcast to phone to upload elsewhere
  • No way to change the resolution, video not  in High Definition.
  • Landscape or portrait

Periscope is really an excellent, easy-to-use mobile live streaming app. The down side is that it only live streams to Twitter.

You can download your completed broadcast to your phone's image gallery, which can then be uploaded to YouTube (or wherever you like). However, I had mixed results with that. After multiple tests, I was only able to view 2 of 4 video downloads, suggesting the files might occasionally be corrupted.

I'll also note that the Periscope video is the only one I tested that is not in High Definition (at least 720p).

Ultimately I think Periscope is great if you have a following on Twitter, but if your primary focus is on YouTube or elsewhere, it's not the ideal option.

Stream 

Features
  • Does not stream to YouTube or social media, but you can save the stream to your device
  • No way to change the resolution, but video is High Definition.
  • Landscape only
Stream has its own ecosystem of live streamers, and it's focused on live broadcasts in the app. On Android, you have to tap the floppy disc icon to save the stream to your device's camera roll or image gallery. 

It's not as slick as Periscope, and only allows live streaming in the horizontal landscape orientation, but it was no trouble uploading the video to YouTube. The 

Honorable mention: YouTube Gaming app


Features
  • Streams your screen directly to YouTube 
  • Resolution: 480p or 720p
  • Portrait or landscape orientation

The YouTube Gaming app is designed for live streaming or recording of your mobile game play, so it displays what's on your phone's screen, and your camera feed is just a small inset.

But it is quite easy to use and the video is high quality. I think it bodes well for the YouTube mobile app when it finally arrives for everyone.

Watch all my test videos

Here I am in all my awkwardness trying out the different live streaming apps.


Posted by Peggy K

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