Facebook Takes On Clubhouse With Audio-only Features, Trial Begins in Taiwan
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
Facebook has announced that podcasts, live audio rooms and more are coming to its platform soon, with a trial rolling out right now for users in Taiwan.
The social media giant recently revealed that the company has invested in creating and improving audio technologies to make it easy, natural and immersive for users to fully experience the full spectrum of its social audio experience.
This initiative was borne from the rise of popularity of audio-based apps such as Clubhouse, an audio-only social media app that only invited users can access, and Discord’s rebranding to become more of a “hang out place” for users to talk about their favourite topics rather than just an app for calls when gaming.
Here are some of the features that you should look out for.
Sound Studio is Facebook’s new audio creation tool, similar to the tools that appear when you upload a photo or video to the platform. Sound Studio comes with intuitive and fun tools like voice morphing and text-to-speech while still being “powerful enough” for professionals to use. Most importantly, advancements in AI allow Sound Studio to improve audio quality, even when you’re recording on a busy street corner. Sound Studio also comes with Sound Collection, allowing users to add audio (music, sound effects, filters etc.) to their stories.
The feature also allows you to create short and creative audio clips called Soundbites that you can post on the platform. This feature is good for capturing and posting anecdotes, jokes and poems that you can add your voice to. Soundbites will also have an Audio Creator Fund to support emerging audio creators monetarily.
Facebook has already started testing this new feature with a small number of creators, which could also mean that Sound Studio could become available to everyone in the upcoming months.
As mentioned before, Facebook will be adding Podcasts into its platform, removing the need for people to leave the platform to listen to their favourite content creators. The company also added that people can listen to podcasts while using the app or when the Facebook app is in the background.
Facebook also added that their platform will recommend podcasts to users based on their interests. People will also have an easier time recommending podcasts to their friends and commenting on them. Content creators, on the other hand, can reach out to and connect with their listeners directly within the Facebook app.
However, there is no word about Facebook adding monetisation options like Spotify’s model for content creators to enable on their podcasts. Facebook did mention that ads are one option that might be implemented in the future, but there’s nothing much to share on that end yet. Maybe we’ll see that feature after the platform’s podcast feature is well-established.
Live Audio Rooms
Live Audio Rooms is Facebook’s new audio-only feature that is a direct competitor to popular app Clubhouse. The feature provides spaces for communities to talk about their favourite topics. The company stated that it will be testing its new feature in Group pages, and expects that it will be publicly available in Summer 2021, with a trial rolling out right now in Taiwan and a broader rollout set in the “coming months”. It is also set to be released on Messenger in Summer 2021 so that people “can easily hang out with [their] friends, too.”
Public figures will be among the first to use Live Audio Rooms as part of the feature’s initial rollout. They can host conversations with other public figures, experts and fans as soon as the feature is live.
Live Audio Rooms also comes with monetisation opportunities for content creators and public figures alike. Fans who wish to support their favourite creator or public figure can send money to them through Facebook Stars or donate to causes they care about. Facebook is planning on offering other monetisation models such as the ability to charge people for access to a Live Audio Room through a single purchase or a subscription.
Closed captioning will be provided in Facebook’s new audio-based features for more accessibility Credit: IBM
Facebook assures its users that its new audio-based features will be accessible to all. Content creators can turn a live conversation into a podcast for everyone to listen to later, just like how streamers can post their live streams for later viewing, although this feature isn’t available in the first trial yet. The company will also include features that will allow users to clip excerpts from a live conversation or podcast and publish them as Soundbites. Captions will also be added for people who prefer to follow a live conversation or podcast through text.
The company is also making audio messages in WhatsApp and Messenger easier and more fun to record. Facebook stated that it will include a feature that will let users send sound clips from chirping crickets to quotes or even popular songs to their friends.
We don’t know when these new features will fully roll out on Facebook and its messaging apps, but we can’t wait to try them out!
Written by John Paul Joaquin