Twitch recently launched their Twitch Desktop App. Thanks to the acquisition of Curse last year, they now have a new VOIP service. Alongside their launch of Pulse, Twitch is starting to make their mark on the Social Media world.
The service is an upgrade and re-skin of the old Curse VOIP service but as someone who never used the old Curse program, I’ll be viewing the app as a first time user. I’ll also be checking out the main features of the App since things like statuses, friend lists, settings, etc. are fairly common to most.
Due to Curse having their own VOIP service before Twitch acquired them, they have been able to use it as a foundation for the Desktop App. When you open the App you are greeted by a nice Twitch purple homepage. Right away you have the choice to create a server, join one, or start a call where you can invite people via a link or adding your friends. On the left everything is neatly labelled and organized into the various areas of the App such as Recent interactions, Friends, Servers, and Groups. The far sidebar also includes the button to switch to Chat and also windows to discover new friends and servers to join. Additionally due to Curse’s mod support, if you have any compatible games, you can search and install add-ons directly through the Twitch App. More game integration will be available in the future as there is a Game Library tab that will allow you to launch your games that you have purchased off Twitch.tv directly off the App.
The video game integration further emphasizes what Twitch is going for which is all around connectivity for their users. Discovering friends and servers boasts the same idea. With the Discover Friends button, you’ll be presented with a list of recommended people to add to your friends list or whisper them. The list seems to be compiled from connected programs such as Steam/Battle.net or mutual friends. If you’re searching for specific people you can do that by their Username, E-mail, or even their Character Name which is a nice feature. Discovering Servers offers a bit more as you’re able to use a wide range of filters such as the type of server, number of members, or what game its focus is. Unless the server is private you don’t need anything to join a server unlike Discord where you need at least an Instant Invite link. This means if you are planning on making a public server, you’ll want to ensure you have proper moderation in place.
There are tons of features found throughout the App. It is clear Twitch is attempting to go above and beyond in making this the app to use for all your gaming and social media needs.
For example; unlike Discord (but similar to Skype), you can start calls that are able to utilize webcams and screen sharing as well.
Like the rest of the app, the call screen is neat and organized. All your options below such as screen sharing, invites, and audio settings can be accessed with a click of a button. The main area shows who is in the call and if you want, you can also enable a chat area for people who may not have a microphone. If you don’t need the main App window open, there is also a handy little overlay bar that holds a mute mic, mute headphones, and end call button. In the top left you’ll see the duration of the call as well as hovering over the connection bars will tell you which server you’re connected to and if there are any connectivity problems. Additionally by being connected directly to Twitch servers; you’re protected from DDoS attacks!
The servers are likely the area most of you will be using so let’s quickly browse through that shall we?
If you’ve been using Discord for awhile you’ll pick up things fairly easily. Main chat area is front and center with the rooms (both voice and chat) and members on the right side. Since Twitch will let you watch your favourite streamers directly in the App, you also are able to view Twitch chat directly from the App! This is particularly nice for larger streamers that have people communicating/lurking in their Twitch chat since they can monitor and chat with their community without having to go to their Twitch page and popping chat out.
On the right side of the Server you can also click two tabs that are some nice little extras; Files (the two papers) and Events (the present icon).
This is a helpful feature to organize all the links, videos, and images posted in the server. You can filter for those specific types of files and can filter for things posted by everyone or just by you.
The Events tab will show any events currently running such as Giveaways and Polls. This adds a nice level of interactivity among the community. From the Admin panel you can set a variety of different variables regarding the events.
Speaking of the Admin panel, this is where you can setup things such as roles and server descriptors so people can discover your server. You’ll also get a quick list of all the members in the server and what kind of activity is going on. The Activity Log is a helpful tool for Admins to have a birds eye view of everything going on in the server. If you’re a streamer, you also get the ability to Sync your Stream. This let’s the App automatically assign you Twitch chat roles to members as they come in as well as allow people to watch your stream within the App. The Streamer Studio holds Streamer Mode settings as well as a Subscriber List.
Overall, the Twitch app is clean and has plenty of features to make it a nifty tool. The problem lies in the fact it’s fairly new and the main use for it, which is chat, already has a clear competitor, Discord. The webcam/video options as well as the integration with Game-Addons and Twitch streams are nice little additions that differentiate it from Discord.
I think it is worth checking out to get used to the App. In the future it will definitely be a powerhouse of an App and I can’t wait to see it get more support and features down the road!