Twitter Adds Voice Tweets But It’s Really Just a Social Broadcast for Voice Text Message

Twitter has a number of voice industry types all aflutter with its announcement today of a limited rollout of voice Tweets. It’s actually a clever and long overdue implementation, but it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with voice as we think about the term in the industry. Don’t expect some clever AI-driven solution. A more accurate name might be audio Tweets. Sure, I’ll use it. With that said, what Snapchat rolled out last week was more important as of today.

Voice Tweets Explained

“Tweeting with your voice is not too different from Tweeting with text. To start, open the Tweet composer and tap the new icon with wavelengths. You’ll see your profile photo with the record button at the bottom – tap this to record your voice,” writes Maya Patterson and Rémy Bourgoin of Twitter in a blog post today.

You can also include text before your audio file to offer additional context. The image is simply your Twitter avatar floating on top of a colored background and pulsating while the audio plays. It’s tempting to simply see its as Twitter’s version of voice text messaging that can easily broadcast to your social media audience. It does have a nifty feature that if your voice Tweet goes beyond the 140-second limit (nice homage to Twitter’s heritage on that choice), it will thread the content together with another Tweet.

Snapchat Has a Voice Assistant, Twitter Does Not

Snapchat’s new voice assistant that helps users identify a filter is a more ambitious approach to voice interactivity. Twitter is enabling users to create audio content on the fly as simply as entering text. Snapchat is using voice to help users navigate the app. Granted, Snapchat’s voice implementation is exceedingly narrow. It only provides access to a single feature. Then again, filters are a central feature of the app so the new voice search goes right to the heart of one of the most popular app features. The move also suggests Snapchat has additional ideas on how to use voice technology to enhance the user experience.

Voice Tweets will Evolve Twitter

Being able to speak your Tweets is no technical breakthrough. However, it could alter the nature of Twitter. Text is impersonal and lacks the spoken voice characteristics that enable more nuanced communication. Patterson and Bourgoin point out this shortcoming in Twitter’s current app saying, “sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation.”

This may make Twitter a more capable communication tool and also shift consumption to listening from reading. It will also likely lead to longer session time as users listen to Tweets as opposed to visually scan while scrolling. Mark Webster of Adobe suggests voice Tweets are “the tip of the iceberg” in how Twitter use is transformed.

The lack of actual voice technology features or a voice assistant today doesn’t mean Twitter won’t eventually arrive at the same conclusion as did SNAP. You could easily see voice Tweets being surfaced by voice search that strings together an ad hoc playlist of your followers or based on a topic or hashtag. So, today’s voice Tweets are a recognition of the rise in audio and the interest by consumers to use their voice more in their interactions with technology. In the future, maybe will see a quiet revolution in social media that could make these channels more like a conversation and maybe even assistant-supported interactions.

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