Just Sayin’: Ricky Gervais attempts to bring voice to social media

21 Sep 2012

Ricky Gervais isn’t an app developer, but he has teamed up with CloudTalk as creative director of Just Sayin’, a new app that adds an audio platform to Twitter and Facebook.

Best known for his work on international TV hit, The Office, Gervais is also a popular figure on Twitter, with more than 3m followers. However, Gervais’ comic side is often misinterpreted on the micro-blogging platform as its text-only form is missing the nuances that voice can add to a statement that’s meant as a joke.

Earlier this year, Gervais met David Hayden, CEO of Californian voice app development company CloudTalk, and was introduced to Just Sayin’. He signed up as creative director and helped to refine the app, which came out of private beta on Wednesday.

Gervais is now the face – well, mouth – of the app, promoting its use and seeking feedback from users. “Just Sayin’ is to radio what Twitter is to newsprint,” is his way of summarising the app. “Making the human voice a natural part of any social web experience is the next big thing. Voice as a monologue is narcissistic, voice as a dialogue is social. Social media is a place where people desire to be both,” he said.

Online conversation – now with added voice

What distinguishes Just Sayin’ from a service like Audioboo is the ability of users to reply to audio clips with clips of their own, creating a conversation based on that ol’ chestnut – voice. Users sign in using Facebook or Twitter and recordings are automatically posted to these accounts, along with any text, image or video content included in the post.

Just Sayin' app

This way, the app enables public voice conversations and can also be used to conduct interviews via social media, or by celebrities to engage with fans. An early user of Just Sayin’, Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx, said, “I use the Just Sayin’ app as a way to further close the gap between fan and artist. Not only do the fans get to hear my voice directly but I get to hear theirs, as well. I love it.”

The app is free and supported by mobile advertising. It’s available now for iOS (including iOS 6) and an Android version is in production. There’s also a browser-based version.

Just Sayin' app screenshotJust Sayin' app screenshot

“Voice has been the missing link to a person’s online persona,” said Hayden. “Social media interaction is widely silent and we know text has its limitations; sentiments can be difficult to express in 140 characters.”

Tried and tested

Having tried out the app, I can see it’s still in a formative phase. The desktop version appears to be missing a lot of functionality. Though I could send text-based updates or images, I could not search for or browse what other users were posting apart from a ticker of recent posts (all from Gervais) at the side of the page, making it a dead end for any kind of conversation.

The mobile app is better, but not by much. Though I could now browse what other users were saying, I encountered some glitches and teething problems along the way. As the app tries to build a user base, most of the posts seem to be coming from Gervais, and plenty of responses are coming in from his fans – though some appear to be having difficulty understanding the concept and how to use the app correctly, as many recorded snippets consist of seconds of silence and nothing more.

Sorry, Gervais, but this app still needs some refining – just sayin’.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic