UStream’s iPhone App: Gamechanger?

We’ve used UStream here a number of times to stream both live events as well as sporting games. As I wrote about in this blog post, Ustream’s an easy and free way to stream content live.

The challenge with setting up for Ustream is that it required a video camera, laptop and internet connection. I’ve been watching anxiously over the last year for a way to do it easily on a mobile device. I think that day has finally come – which is especially important to those of us who, thanks to lame contracts, haven’t been able to affordably upgrade to an iPhone 3GS.

You could stream on UStream for a few months now using a jailbroken iPhone, that is, an iPhone that’s used software to get into your phone to allow applications unapproved by Apple to run. I didn’t really want to do that, so I waited and waited.

Click for a full-size screenshot

Today, UStream launched its new app, Ustream Live Broadaster, which allows both iPhone 3G and 3GS devices to stream live video over wifi and 3G networks (sorry, Edge users.)

Once I saw the announcement go up, I installed the app and got streaming in just a few minutes.

First impressions: the app is really nice. It’s easy to use and the quality coming from my 3G phone is really nice. I walked around our offices (using wifi) and when holding the camera still, video and audio was crisp and clear.

There are optional settings to have UStream post a tweet on your behalf when you start a new live stream. That’s nice – there’s no sense in doing a live stream if no one is going to watch it.

During your stream, you can follow along with the chat stream, initiate polls and mute the audio if needed. At the end of your stream, you can save your stream to be kept at Ustream. I did one 20 minute stream and one 30 minute stream and no issues at all.

One interesting feature is that you can record videos in the app off-line and save them in Ustream, in both private and public modes. This could be a cool feature – I can imagine taking my iPhone out for a quick interview, recording it in offline mode, saving it to Ustream and have users view it when they want.

So far, I’m very impressed with this app. I think it’s something we’ll be using more and more of. Now, all we need are a few iPod touches with cameras and this could be a pretty decent streaming arsenal on campus.