Twitter has launched an early beta version of its new, Clubhouse-like audio Spaces feature, which will see a small group of users invited to test out the new audio-only, virtual rooms function.
As you can see in the above screenshots, Twitter's audio Spaces will enable users to create an audio-only meeting, which their connections can then join, either to listen in or to actively participate. The audio meet-ups will be highlighted via a purple icon on the creators' Fleets bubble, signifying when an audio discussion is in progress, and who's participating.
(Screenshot via Matt Navarra)
Twitter started tweeting from an official account for the new function earlier this month, and today, it's announced the first stage of testing.
aye we’re live! what up y’all, we're the team behind Spaces––a small experiment focused on the intimacy of the human voice????— Spaces (@TwitterSpaces) December 17, 2020
As explained by Twitter:
"The human voice can bring a layer of connectivity to Twitter through emotion, nuance and empathy often lost in text. We see this with voice tweets and voice DMs. sometimes 280 isn't enough, and voice gives people another way to join the conversation."
So it'll be another option to engage on the platform, which could be worth checking out as it gets expanded - though it is also worth noting that audio clips tweets haven't exactly become a key communications option. Which probably doesn't bode well for Spaces.
But then again, the integration with Fleets could make it a more engaging option, as users will be notified, right at the top of their feed, when their connections are broadcasting in an audio room. Content discovery has always been somewhat problematic on Twitter - if a live broadcast you might be interested it happening, there's no way of you knowing unless you follow the specific creator, which is not always the case.
Boosting awareness via Fleets will definitely have advantages in this respect. But will audio-only rooms catch on, especially in a year when group video calls have seen such massive increases on every other platform?
For its part, Twitter describes Spaces as being like "a well-hosted dinner party".
"At a bomb dinner party, you don't need to know everyone to have a great time, but everyone feels comfortable at the table. We wanted Spaces to have that magic feeling too."
Yes. Bomb dinner party. So hip.
I'm skeptical that Spaces will be able to capture that type of intimate feeling of connection, but as noted, seeing in-progress discussions highlighted at the top of your feed will no doubt get more people tuning in. And it does seem like only a matter of time before Twitter also incorporates live-streaming into Fleets also, providing similar awareness.
In this sense, Spaces feels more like an extension of Fleets, as opposed to a feature within itself - because without that integration, I highly doubt Spaces would gain any traction at all.
But of course, the truth will be in the testing. As noted, Twitter says that "a very small feedback group" will get access to the option from today.
Twitter's also testing reactions "similar to hand gestures" and live transcriptions to enhance the experience.
Early users have reported the experience being fairly buggy, but it'll take some time for Twitter to sort out the full experience.