Twitter is rolling out a new feature, audio tweets, to allow users to share voice snippets to their followers. For now, audio tweets will only be available to "a limited group" of iOS app users, with all iOS users gaining access in the next few weeks.
Twitter announced the new feature Wednesday. In a blog post, the company said, "Sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation. So starting today, we’re testing a new feature that will add a more human touch to the way we use Twitter – your very own voice."
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The new feature lets a user record up to 140 seconds of audio and then send it like any other tweet. If a user talks for more than 140 seconds, a new voice tweet starts to record automatically to create a thread.
Their followers will see the audio tweet in their timeline alongside other text, photo and video tweets. To listen, they just have to tap the image. On iOS, a playback bar will be docked at the bottom of the timeline so they can listen as they scroll.
Audio can only be added to original tweets, so you can't append them to replies or retweets. Also, Twitter notes that your current profile picture will always be the static image on the audio attachment and will not refresh if you update your profile picture.
With audio tweets, Twitter seems to be acknowledging the rising popularity of podcasts, though a cap on the number of threaded audio tweets (25) indicates Twitter doesn't intend for the feature to replace podcasts.
The select group of users who have the new feature include celebrities, who are already jumping on the audio wagon. John Legend used an audio tweet to post a 35-second preview of the song "U Move, I Move" from his upcoming Bigger Love album.
Sneak preview of 'U Move, I Move' feat. @JheneAiko off my upcoming album #BiggerLove - out this Friday! https://t.co/EgsNHZFo2g pic.twitter.com/rw1R23DZeBJune 17, 2020
Jimmy Fallon used it to promote The Tonight Show's lineup of guests:
This is my first AUDIO tweet. pic.twitter.com/REA5huB6oJJune 17, 2020
Cardi B just had a little fun testing out the new feature:
pic.twitter.com/KV8esaxxUlJune 17, 2020
How to use audio tweets on Twitter
If you are one of the select Twitter users on iOS that can access the audio tweets feature, here's how to use it:
- Open the Twitter app.
- Compose a new tweet.
- At the bottom of the compose window, tap the purple wavelength icon.
- A new window with your profile picture will open. Tap the red record button.
- Record up to 140 seconds of audio.
- Or continue recording to create a series of up to 25 threaded tweets
- Tap tweet to send.
Twitter audio tweets: Issues and questions
One major question surrounding the new audio tweet feature is around potential abuse. Twitter already faces challenges around flagging text tweets, despite automated tools. Scrubbing harassment or abuse in audio tweets is a completely different ballgame, since content moderators will have to listen to any flagged audio tweets.
Another issue is accessibility. When The Verge asked Twitter about making audio tweets accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, a company spokesperson told the site, "This is an early test of audio for us and we’re still exploring the best ways to meet the needs of people with different abilities.”
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