AOL is jumping into the live-streaming fray with the latest version of the Kanvas app, whose parent company it acquired in August. Previously marketed as a photo-editing service for teens and children, Kanvas just got a facelift that infused the app with live-streaming capabilities, positioning it against the likes of Periscope and Meerkat.
The new app allows users to broadcast live streams to other Kanvas users, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. It is differentiating itself from rivals like Periscope by offering a variety of simple special effects and filters, which can be inserted in video streams in real time. It also gives users a library of stickers and emojis that can be used to embellish broadcasts.
“As a broadcaster sends a live stream, we merge that layer with a layer of edits they do and render it pixel-by-pixel in real time,” Vic Singh, the CEO and cofounder of parent company Kanvas Labs, told Fast Company. “There’s a lot of heavy lifting beyond the scenes.” Characterizing the streaming video sector as “ginormous,” he added that faster network connections and ubiquitous Wi-Fi access are making it easier for companies to work in the space.
Periscope has more than 10 million users, eclipsing Meerkat, which has less than 2 million. Kanvas already matches Meerkat’s audience, with its nearly 2 million users–65% of whom are between the ages of 13 and 18.
The new iteration of Kanvas is the company’s first major app release since being acquired by AOL.