Twitter Adds Live Captions to Voice Tweets A Year After They Debuted
We took your feedback and we’re doing the work. To improve accessibility features, captions for voice Tweets are rolling out today.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2021
Twitter has brought captions to its voice tweets feature slightly over a year after the audio feature debuted. The social media giant incorporated the speech-to-text option to make the voice tweets accessible to people with hearing impairments, following multiple complaints from individuals and organizations when the feature first rolled out.
Voice tweets are essentially a shared audio file, which Voicebot founder described as a social broadcast for voice text messages. The tweets can use up to 140 seconds of audio, a callback to the 140 character restriction of early Twitter. The voice tweets were soon followed by pilot programs for audio direct messages, the same concept but for DMs. Twitter first pitched voice tweets as a way to add a new dimension to the social media platform. They were an extra option like the videos, pictures, and GIFs that could already be attached to text tweets.
“As part of our ongoing work to make Twitter accessible for everyone, we’re rolling out automated captions for Voice Tweets to iOS,” Twitter global accessibility head Gurpreet Kaur said in a statement. “Though it’s still early and we know it won’t be perfect at first, it’s one of many steps we’re taking to expand and strengthen accessibility across our service, and we look forward to continuing our journey to create a truly inclusive service.”
The automated caption feature is limited to the iOS version of Twitter, though other platforms will get it eventually. The viewer can tap the CC button on the tweet to turn the caption on or off, and it will write out what the person is saying in any of the currently supported languages, including English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, Arabic, Hindi, French, Indonesian, Korean, and Italian. They won’t appear on existing voice tweets, however, only ones created from this point on. Twitter’s voice tweet development team had apparently not considered the potential negative reaction from those who couldn’t hear the audio tweets before the launch last year. But, the company did apologize and eventually offered the caption option, though it has taken a year.