After it shared a test of audio clips in tweets last month, Twitter has today launched the option to add 140-second audio clips to tweets among a selected group of users on iOS.
You can Tweet a Tweet. But now you can Tweet your voice!— Twitter (@Twitter) June 17, 2020
Rolling out today on iOS, you can now record and Tweet with audio. pic.twitter.com/jezRmh1dkD
As you can see in this example, to create an audio clip in a tweet, users will be able to tap the new wavelengths icon at the bottom right of the tweet composer. You'll then be able to record your audio, with your profile photo on screen and a recording progress bar at the bottom.
As shown in the third screenshot above, audio clips will appear in stream and in tweets with your profile image in the center of the playback. And while the limit for audio clips is 140 seconds, Twitter says that "once you reach the time limit for a Tweet, a new voice Tweet starts automatically to create a thread", so you can put together longer monologues to share with your tweet audience.
Twitter's actually been experimenting with audio presentation options for some time. Back in 2018, Twitter launched audio-only live-streams, both in Twitter and Periscope, which already, technically, provided a means to share audio within tweets, though not directly.
In May this year, as part of an experiment, Twitter's designed team mocked up these audio tweet display options, which it called 'Hear and Now'.
That was obviously linked to the broader test of audio tweets, which is what's being rolled out today.
In an explainer thread for the option, Twitter product designer Maya Gold has provided some additional insight into the development process, noting that they also experimented with recording audio with friends and that they eventually opted to strip down any audio editing options to keep the UI simple. Gold indicates that both options will likely be added at a later stage, depending on how audio tweets are used.
One concerning element raised by several users is the capacity to use voice tweets as a new form of on-platform abuse, with the more aggressive, expressive nature of a person's voice potentially amplifying such attacks (both literally and figuratively). Twitter's tried to counter this somewhat by not allowing users to reply to tweets with audio clips at this stage, which could reduce responsive attacks. But you could still mention a user in your audio tweet, so there is still capacity for audio clips to be misused in this way. We'll have to wait and see if this becomes a concern.
Overall, it's an interesting addition, and it'll be particularly interesting to see if users adopt audio clips - or if it sees high usage early on, as a novelty, then dies out. I mean, I know I don't particularly like hearing my own voice played back, and I think most people are the same. Maybe, then, the only people that will end up using audio tweets regularly will be podcasters and influencers, and 'power users' who are keen to share their 'hustle' quotes.
Regardless, there will be interesting uses for audio clips, and aside from the concerns around abuse, it seems like it could be an interesting experiment, at the least.
Voice Tweets will be available to a limited group of Twitter users on iOS to begin with, but will be rolling out to all iOS users in the coming weeks, with other platforms to follow.