Facebook set to announce new audio features

19 Apr 2021

Image: © abdullah/Stock.adobe.com

The social media platform is expected to roll out audio features in response to the growing popularity of Clubhouse.

Facebook is expected to announce a range of new audio products today (19 April), according to Recode. Reports of the new audio-focused features first emerged a couple of months ago when sources told the New York Times that employees at the social media giant had been told to create a product similar to invite-only audio-chat app Clubhouse.

“We’ve been connecting people through audio and video technologies for many years and are always exploring new ways to improve that experience for people,” company spokesperson Emilie Haskell told the publication at the time.

The pandemic has pushed more social platforms to explore video and audio. Last year, Facebook launched Messenger Rooms as a video-conferencing alternative to big market players like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and it recently extended capabilities for voice and video calls on WhatsApp.

More recently, the company has been testing its new app Hotline, which allows creators to speak and answer live questions from an audience through a combination of text, audio and video.

The next announcement from Facebook, according to Recode, will bring news of a series of products under the umbrella of ‘social audio’. As well as its take on Clubhouse, which would allow groups to listen to and engage with speakers on a virtual stage, Facebook is expected to announce its expansion into the world of podcast distribution and discovery, which will be linked to Spotify.

An audio version of Rooms is also reported to be on the cards, as well as a feature that would allow users to record short voice messages and post them to their feeds.

Facebook isn’t the only social platform following in Clubhouse’s footsteps. Twitter has been rolling out its live audio feature Spaces in recent months, while Slack and Spotify have also thrown their hats into the ring with plans for new audio features.

Clubhouse, which has been firmly in the social media spotlight this year, has reportedly reached a $4bn valuation after a fresh round of funding.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021