With the ever growing popularity of live game streaming platform Twitch.tv on the internet, today we will dive into the Windows Store and see which are the best apps for your game streaming needs.
Increasing Popularity of Video Game Streaming
Twitch.tv – a video game streaming website – has seen a huge explosion in user base in the past years due to the newer consoles embracing the trend of live streaming. The PS4 and Xbox One offer dedicated apps for users to stream themselves playing, while the community of PC streamers playing Steam, Blizzard and other classics continues to gain… steam (pun intended).
I’m myself not a fan of live game streaming. The idea doesn’t click with me – why would I want to watch someone else play video games when I can play them myself? I don’t get any joy out of watching others play.
Twitch Apps For Windows Keep Getting Better
Developers have been making apps for Twitch for a long time. The idea behind these apps is to offer a better game streaming experience right on your desktop, thus avoiding the inconvenience that comes from opening the website in a web browser.
Developer efforts have also made to make dedicated apps for the Windows Phone. As you can guess, the features varied from one platform to the next and eventually Twitch apps had an uneven feel to them.
When Windows 10 was released, we came to see the revolution of the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) which sought to unify the Windows Store experience on desktops, tablets, smartphones and any device running the Windows OS. So far we have seen this happen with many popular apps such as Hulu, Dropbox, Netflix and many others!
Today we are going to look at a few of the many apps that caught our eye on the Windows Store and help you decide the definitive app that you should use for your Twitch viewing pleasure on Windows 10 particularly.
With that, lets begin with looking at our selection of best apps.
Unstream: An Awesome Universal Twitch.tv App
Unstream [Windows Store] is officially the only app to offer the Universal Windows Platform experience.
Running the app, it has a clean dark theme with all the major options neatly handled on the left of the screen, leaving plenty of room for you to enjoy game streams in the middle.
As with the UWP experience, you are free to change the shape and size of the app without any hitches or slow downs.
When watching a live video game stream on Twitch, the app offers you a number of options right from the panel:
- Cast to device
- Set the aspect ratio
- Full Screen
Along with options to:
- Pin the streamer to the start menu
- View their profile
I was pleasantly surprised that the app actually gives me superior quality to the website version, where the website will frequently buffer on High or Source, I had almost no difficulty on streaming High quality through the app!
To conclude, Unstream being the only UWP-compliant Twitch app from the choices has so far won me over! The app gives me all I need and much more without ever needing to visit the Twitch.tv website ever again.
Gamestreams: An okay alternative for streaming Twitch
While not complying with the UWP initiative, Gamestreams’ [Windows Store] UI is downright spartan, offering little to no aesthetic beauty.
Even the options available in stream are just limited to:
Additionally, making the app go from full screen to windowed is a challenge of its own which really annoyed me a lot.
While Gamestreams did show me the same level of video playback on Unstream, the look, features and layout was really unpleasing and you will really wish for a new app sooner rather than later.
To conclude, Game Streams is an OKAY desktop app for Twitch, but due to the layout, the look and horrible way to handle fullscreen / windowed mode, I didn’t like it as much. You may prefer it.
8Stream: A Pleasantly Surprising Twitch Streaming Experience for Windows Desktop
Coming to our last app of the day: 8stream [Windows Store]. I was pleasantly surprised when I downloaded this, thinking it didn’t have the integration of UWP. Using it however makes me feel like it has been implemented but left out of the official info on the Windows Store page.
While the app does a great job at matching Twitch’s color scheme, the number of options available to you on the main menu as opposed to Unstream are severely limited.
When it comes down to the options you have available to you in a stream, users are able to:
- Adjust the volume
- Toggle chat
- Full Screen
- Video Quality
This is easily the most bare bones Twitch app I came across which offered the most features with little to no hassle in getting to them, while also offering the UWP experience.
It would have been nice to be able to make the app change between Windowed and Full Screen mode with Double click, but that just makes the menu bar appear and disappear.
Just like the rest, 8Stream did a superb job on playing back video at Source quality which, I repeat, is a problem for me on the website. However, it doesn’t offer the many streaming options offered by Unstream.
To conclude, 8Stream is easily my second choice from the list. When it comes down to it, the lack of options on the main menu and for streams are what really bring it down.
The Best Twitch.tv App For Windows 10: Unstream!
In the end, I would have to say the clear winner for the best free Twitch app for Windows is Unstream. It complies with UWP, and offers the widest array of options in the main menu as well as when you’re watching streamers, making it hands down the best choice.
When it comes down user experience, Unstream offers convenient features such as allowing users to go from full screen to windowed mode with a double click. It’s also nice to see it automatically move the toolbar down when in full screen, and automatically loading the stream in Source quality.
One big win for the desktop Twitch apps collectively is how they were all able to stream videos at Source quality which doesn’t work as well on the website. The option of hiding community chat is also quite nice, since we all know how it can be an unsightly thing at times.
These are our top picks for the best and free Twitch apps that the Windows Store has to offer. If you are currently using any of these, let us know in the comments section which of the apps you prefer and why.