Mirrativ (for Android)
Until now, the video game live-streaming phenomenon pioneered by Twitch.tv has been limited to PC and console games. But games aren’t restricted to those devices, they’re everywhere. So what do you do if you want to broadcast yourself enjoying some greatAndroid games? Mirrativ is a new free Android app that allows you to live stream whatever is happening on the screen of your Android phone or tablet. Although Mirrativ appeals to an underserved gaming niche, and offers an incredibly simple way to get into live streaming, it also feels cut off from the larger live-streaming zeitgeist.
The Viewing Experience
Mirrativ is a free Android app from DeNA, a Japanese mobile game developer so prolific that Nintendo is partnering with it as part of the classic gaming juggernaut’s long-awaited entry into smartphone game creation. I tested the app on a Moto X, but it works on any Android device running Android 5.0 or above. Only those newer operating systems provide the powerful permissions necessary for live screen sharing.
Mirrativ actually has one of the better interfaces I’ve seen from a streaming service, mostly because the smaller screen size of most mobile devices means your eyes aren’t assaulted with a million stream thumbnails at once. You can easily find and watch ongoing live streams on the Discover tab, keep track of channels you’re subscribed to on the Following tab, or track streams for specific apps and popular games in the My Apps tab. That last tab also connects you to friends who like the same apps and notify you when streams for those apps are live. Never miss another Hearthstone stream again.
However, after spending some time in the burgeoning Mirrativ community, I couldn’t help but be a little bummed out. It’s not Ello-level anemic, but highlighted streams were often awkward and low energy, not the slick, professional-grade content from prominent personalities found on more-populated video game live streaming services. Even the relatively underground Hitbox.tv didn’t immediately present me with a stream of some guy tending to a crying baby in the background asMinecraft was left idle. Obviously, the situation might get better in time if the community grows, and DeNA says many parts of the app are still in beta, but Mirrativ’s Android-exclusive status puts a hard limit on potential growth. You can share links to streams online, but the current Web player is sparse and doesn’t allow for interaction. When it comes to just watching live streams, mobile apps from competitors offer a lot more.
The Streaming Experience
Mirrativ isn’t just for watching mobile live streams, though; it’s for creating them, as well. And it mostly executes on this very cool idea. After creating an account or logging in through Twitter, give Mirrativ permission to share your screen. Don’t worry, this only allows others to see what’s happening on your phone or tablet, not control it. You then enter some tags about your stream, press start, and you’re streaming. It’s that simple.
As I successfully streamed Crossy Road, my face was displayed in a small box I could reposition on the screen. And as I accumulated viewers, comments popped up for me to respond to. It’s very reminiscent of Periscope. In Broadcast Settings, you can alter the resolution and privacy options of your stream. Some days you might want to automatically share your high quality game stream on Twitter for all to see. Other times you may just want to privately share your screen with one other person, perhaps to demonstrate to a relative how a tricky Android app works. Mirrativ archives streams for later viewing.
As impressive and intuitive Mirrativ is, YouTube Gaming on Android offers the same service and then some. YouTube Gaming’s interface is sleeker, its connectivity issues are less frequent, and it records in-app audio. Mirrativ just records whatever the microphone hears. Plus, YouTube Gaming leverages the already massive YouTube audience. It doesn’t have to build a user base from scratch. But to be fair, Mirrativ does have tighter security features. By default, Mirrativ automatically blacks out your screen if it suspects sensitive information is about to show up in a message or push notification. YouTube Gaming users need to babysit their stream a little more to keep it secure. Both apps also noticeably heat up your phone.
Man in the Mirrativ
Streaming from your mobile device is very nifty, but honestly it’s not that much more difficult to do so through a traditional live streaming service like Hitbox or our Editors’ Choice, Twitch. Meanwhile, YouTube Gaming includes a mobile streaming feature slightly but definitely superior to Mirrativ thanks to its larger streaming initiative. Even if others do it better, Mirrativ does accomplish its exciting goal of letting you easily yourself while you use Android apps.