Justin.tv Joins the iPhone Crowd — At Long Last

Justin.tv has finally come out with an iPhone (s APPL) app that will allow its viewers to watch video streams from the mobile device. But while the just-released app is a big step forward for the live streaming startup, Justin.tv still has a long way to go to catch up to its competitors, many of whom have already enabled their users to record their own live streams from the device.

We haven’t gotten a chance to play with the app ourselves, but Justin.tv provided a YouTube (s GOOG) video to show off some of the basic functionality of the new iPhone app. Users can connect to the app through their existing Justin.tv account, or if they’re a first-time user they can create an account from within the app. Once they’ve logged in, users are given a list of featured videos and screen caps, but they’re not limited to the broadcasts picked by Justin.tv; through a search function, users can connect to any video channel on the service. They can also save or delete channels from a favorites menu.

One of the most important features of Justin.tv is communicating with other users, and the app has a chat feature that appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the video screen, allowing viewers to know when new messages appear. iPhone or iPod touch users can chat from within the app itself, and chat messages are displayed from both mobile users and viewers on a particular video channel on the Justin.tv website.

The app allows users to share channels with friends through the iPhone’s built in email system, but doesn’t yet support social sharing via Facebook, Twitter, or other popular social networking sites. That’s something Justin.tv hopes to add in a future release, along with push notifications letting users know when live streams of their favorite channels go live — a feature that Justin.tv expects with the first update of the application.

While the app is a good first step for Justin.tv, it has a long way to go to catch up to some of its competitors — particularly Ustream, which first released its Ustream viewing application more than a year ago. Since then, Ustream and others have already released apps that enable users to upload captured video and even broadcast live video streams from their iPhone or iPod touch mobile devices. Justin.tv also plans to make broadcasting from the app available in a future version, but does not have an estimated date for that release.