Twitter Confirms Audio DM Plans, Despite Lackluster Voice Tweet Response
Twitter will soon expand its audio tweets to direct messages, starting in Brazil, according to a report in The Verge. Twitter product manager Alex Ackerman-Greenberg announced the plans with a vocal DM to reporters, confirming earlier rumors that the social media giant was working on the concept. Voice DMs would expand the audio tweets option Twitter started offering in June, despite skepticism from users of its value and criticism that it excluded users with hearing difficulties.
Sending an audio DM on Twitter will work much like leaving a voicemail, judging from the 20-second message Ackerman left. The message didn’t lay out all of the limits of the new feature, which will start with a Brazilian pilot test, so it’s not certain if people will be limited in message length to 20 seconds, or 140 seconds like an audio tweet, or have no limit at all. Leaving an audio message works like sending a text DM, except tapping a button to start and stop recording audio before sending it. Recipients then just have to hit the play button to listen, and can report threatening or otherwise malicious messages. The only notable difference from the audio tweeting system is that it operates within the DM thread, streamlining the conversation slightly.
Direct audio messages on Twitter don’t seem like a very big deal in some ways. Twitter already lets users send videos, images, and GIFs after all. And it’s probably easier to send an audio message through Facebook, Instagram, or Apple’s iMessage platform then it is to go through Twitter. If security is a concern, WhatsApp and Telegram’s encrypted platforms also have voice message options. Twitter’s decision to develop audio DMs may just be the company being thorough in providing audio across the whole platform. The audio tweet feature didn’t exactly revolutionize the platform, after all, at least not yet. And releasing it without accessibility options was a mistake that Twitter apologized for almost immediately. There at least, the pilot test is making up for lost ground. Twitter’s accessibility team is working on the next iteration of audio tweets and presumably will have a hand in the DM aspect too.
Social Media Audio
As Voicebot pointed out when audio tweets debuted, Twitter isn’t using AI to bring people’s voices to the platform. With or without a DM option, it’s less interesting than what other social media companies are doing with voice tech. Snapchat came out with a kind of voice assistant right around the same time, capable of searching for filters by voice command thanks to SoundHound’s Houndify voice AI platform. Though limited, it sets the stage for a deeper level of interactivity for voice control and messaging than what Twitter is doing. The same goes for TikTok’s new Alexa skill, which allows for hands-free recording of audio and video to share on the platform or send directly. Twitter’s interest in audio may be the start of a quiet social media revolution, but for now, it just feels like it’s catching up.