Live video viewing and broadcasting service UStream appears set to unveil a dramatic update to its iPhone app, the first update the app has seen in many months. UStream, a deep-pocketed gamble on the future, really needs a better iPhone app. This new version looks a lot better; these changes are long overdue. This app looks like something I want to use to view and create live mobile video.

The company put up a post on its blog this evening with screenshots and details of the launch, but pulled the post, probably because the app isn't live yet in the iTunes store. None the less, you can see the screenshots and highlights of the new version below.

For those of you with two phones in your pocket comparing apps across platforms, it appears that most if not all of these updates have been available in the UStream Android app for the past few months. Competition doesn't sit still, either. Rumors emerged earlier this month that Apple's MobileMe product might be remade as a Foursquare/UStream mashup of sorts. We'll see. Given that the company has raised a fair sum of money and that live mobile video is supposed to be all the rage someday, ought UStream not have a little more than this up its sleeve for its first iPhone app update in months? Either way, I'm looking forward to it.

Highlights from the pending UStream release include:


  • Broadcasting and viewing will now finally be possible through the same single app. UStream previously offered live mobile broadcasting through one app (last updated in November) and viewing other peoples' live shows through another (last updated in July). Now there will be just one app for both. It's much more attractive than either the broadcaster or the viewer, too.

  • Featured content and sorting by categories. It's hard to find good content on the UStream app, but the screenshot of featured live and recorded shows indicates the company is set to overcome this major hurdle in making the app worth using. In testing the old app just minutes ago, I was able to view live chatter between astronauts climbing around on the outside of the space station - on my phone! I was also able to see a well-endowed woman disrobe in front of a radio microphone while voices from off-camera shouted in Spanish about Wikipedia. Both live broadcasts truly were marvels of the modern age. Featured content will be a big improvement though, presuming there's enough good things to feature.

  • Users can now log-in with Facebook or Twitter, in addition to their UStream accounts. That's a very smart change.

  • Broadcasters will now be able to run polls from the app.

  • Subscribers can sign up for push notifications for channels or events of interest being broadcast live.

Can changes like these help UStream move beyond the topless astronaut crowd? Time will tell, but they sure look like big improvements to me. I like the idea of being able to view and broadcast live video from my phone. I'll test the app and report back on performance once it's live.