Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has survived his hearings in front of Congress and mustered the courage to ban Alex Jones this week, and now it’s time to get back to business. “🎤🔉🔊,” Dorsey tweeted on Friday.
Twitter’s latest feature is the option to do audio-only livestreams through its iOS app and its live video platform, Periscope. Previously, if you tapped the “Live” icon when you go to make a new tweet, you’d initiate a live video stream on your timeline. Now, there’s a little microphone icon that you can tap to turn off the video portion of the stream.
Why would you want to do this? I’m not totally sure, but I tend to be out of the loop on the great lengths that people will go to in order to avoid reading. According to Twitter’s official account, “Sometimes you just want to talk, without being on camera. We’re launching audio-only broadcasting, so your followers can hear, but not see you.” I can imagine that some users might conduct some podcast-style broadcasts. Real Twitter addicts might use it while they’re driving. And users with visual impairment may benefit from the option to make and consume audio-only content on the platform.
Users weighing-in on Twitter’s announcement mostly seem to be happy about the option, so there’s certainly some thirst for it. Personally, if I scroll by some live audio on my timeline, I’m just going to keep scrolling.
A Twitter spokesperson said Periscope users have asked for an audio-only and that some users already have a makeshift solution: covering their camera lens.
“Broadcasting with audio only in Periscope is something the community has been asking for, and have been doing already by covering the camera lens,” the spokesperson said. “Sometimes people are not comfortable being on camera, but they still want to broadcast and interact with others via Periscope’s powerful chatroom feature.”
Twitter did not comment on when this feature will roll out for Android.
It’s absolutely true that many people just prefer their content in video and audio form. Podcasts are popular because you can multi-task while it plays in the background. It seems unlikely that people will save that one ambiguous audio tweet to listen to at a later time, but if this becomes popular, one could imagine Twitter letting you sort tweets by audio.
From a business perspective, tech companies all seem to think voice is a big part of the future of computing, and Twitter could just be setting itself up for that paradigm shift—if it ever really comes.