With Periscope’s most recent update, the ability to sign up with your phone number was added, creating a secondary way to use Periscope if you didn’t have (or want to use) your Twitter account. It’s the first time Periscope has ventured outside the Twittersphere for gaining users, but they didn’t stray too far. We’ve confirmed that Periscope’s new phone number sign-up scheme is simply Digits, which is part of Twitter’s Fabric mobile development platform. So it’s Twitter, but not Twitter.
The goal of Digits is to engage more users who either don’t want to use a social media account to sign up for a service, or don’t have a particular social account to use. It also allows a Developer (or team) to use something just about everyone has — a phone number — rather than creating their own clumsy account creation features to maintain.
Digits also allows Developers to tap into “the same global, reliable infrastructure Twitter uses”, and allows users to find other users via contacts. It seems Periscope has taken advantage of Digits’ ‘Theming’ feature, which allows for a custom button for sign-in, but not the ‘Find your Friends’ feature.
For users, Digits sign-in allows for use of an app without divulging more info than they might want to. Often, a social sign-in allows an app or service to pinch info you might not be willing to share, or access to things you’re not comfortable with. Digits doesn’t even feed back into Twitter; it’s all about ‘onboarding’, or helping Developers get more users.
Not yet on Android (even though they’re promising to be soon enough), Periscope’s use of Digits will help them grow their user base. Digits was introduced with emerging markets in mind, where email accounts and social saturation are lower.