Twitter has been pushing itself as not just a social network, but as a broadcast platform. Part of that strategy is the release of an official Twitter app for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick that rightfully focuses more on video than on tweets. The app has arrived just in time for Twitter’s first live Thursday night NFL game stream. It also highlights curated tweets and Vine videos, but what might be its killer feature is its ability to stream live broadcasts from Periscope.
When you launch the Twitter app, front and center is Twitter’s premium live content. This is where you’ll be able to watch all 10 Thursday night NFL games, which Twitter reportedly paid around $10 million for the streaming rights. Twitter has also made deals to stream content from the MLB, NBA, and college sports like Pac-12. There will also be live news streams from publications like Bloomberg and Cheddar.
While you watch their premium live streams, you have the option to view a stream of live tweets. If you press right on the remote, it shrinks the video slightly and brings up a column of tweets that you can scroll through without affecting the video being watched. Tweets in this column with images or videos can be selected to expand the embedded media to fill the screen. Pressing back closes the media and brings the live video back. The interface and functionality is very smooth and could prove to be an interesting way to watch live events, especially since so many people already watch TV with a phone/tablet/laptop within reach.
Scrolling down past the main live stream will take you to a “Today on Twitter” section, which essentially displays the same content you find on Twitter’s Moments page. These are curated tweets and images from twitter related to specific current events. Each topic will bring up what is essentially a slideshow of a dozen or so tweets relevant to the topic.
The slides will auto-scroll if you let them, or you can flip through with the left and right buttons. Tweets with images will display the image full screen, and tweets with GIFs or videos will autoplay when they come up. There’s unfortunately no way to load a link included in a tweet that is displayed, or a way to dig deeper into a specific twitter account or subject.
The next section down displays Top Vines from Twitter’s popular 6 second video app. There is no way to login to a Twitter or Vine account with the app, so you’re stuck with just the handful of Vines that Twitter deems interesting. Being able to see ones own feed of Vines would really make this section more interesting. The interface also needs a bit of work because there is no way to easily loop a Vine multiple times, which is part of the appeal of Vine videos.
Lastly is the Top Periscopes section of the app. Similar to the Top Vines section, this displays a dozen or so Periscopes, which are live video streams from Twitter’s self-broadcasting app. This section of the app has the potential to be one of its most useful features, but again, without the ability to login and select specific streams, it’s not nearly as useful as it could be. Periscope, and live self-broadcasts in general, are starting to replace live news streams in many cases, so I hope this area of the app gets expanded.
Overall, the app is a good start. It feels a bit unfinished without the ability to go beyond content that has been curated by Twitter staff or popularity lists. Twitter likely rushed it out for the primary purpose of having a way to broadcast their NFL games on streaming boxes. The other sections feel like they were added just to give people something to browse through when there aren’t any premium live events being streamed. If the app gains the ability to login to one’s own Twitter/Vine/Periscope account, its usefulness and entertainment value will increase exponentially.