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Marketing

Erica Perry

If in this period of social distancing you’ve grown tired of typing, Twitter has some good news. In a new update, you can record your voice and share that audio as a tweet to your followers. A perk? These can also be listened to as you multi-task such as checking email or working on a document — comparable to a micro podcast.

For those keeping tabs, this isn’t Twitter’s first foray into the audio space. In 2018 it launched audio-only live streams in its native platform as well as Periscope and just last month, its design team shared a mock-up of audio tweet display options that they called “Hear and Now.”

Adding a human touch to conversations

“Over the years, photos, videos, gifs, and extra characters have allowed you to add your own flair and personality to your conversations. But sometimes 280 characters aren’t enough and some conversational nuances are lost in translation,” explained Maya Patterson, Staff Product Designer, and Rémy Bourgoin, Senior Software Engineer in the blog announcement. Put simply, sometimes you just want to say what you have to say versus trying to get the tone exactly right in a written out tweet. There’s a lot that can go unsaid or uninterpreted via text, so the platform’s goal with the newest offering is to bring a more human experience to conversations.

Adding 140-second audio clips to tweets

To start, ensure you have the latest version of Twitter installed on your iPhone then open the app. If you’re included in the platform’s beta group, you’ll be able to see a purple wavelength icon next to your camera icon when you begin a new tweet. Once you select the wavelength icon, you’ll then be able to tap a red microphone icon — over a photo of your profile picture — where you can begin to record your voice. Each audio tweet can last up to 140 seconds — or two minutes, 20 seconds. If you exceed the time limit, the app will create a new recording, stringing together a thread of voice tweets.

When you’re finished, hit “Done” in the top right corner. For some added flair, add any contextual words, photos, or GIFs before sending out your tweet to your timeline. To listen to your tweet or someone else’s, just tap the image in your timeline. The audio will appear like an embedded video with a start and pause option with your profile image as the visual. If you’re using an iPhone, the video will be displayed in a new window so you can listen while you scroll through other tweets. The process, as described in the official announcement, really is not all that different from tweeting with text.

A couple of caveats to note: audio tweets will keep playing in the background if you happen to switch to another app and you can’t include audio tweets in replies or retweets with a comment — only original tweets.

Moerdation hurdles

In a recent tweet thread in conversation with accessibility advocates, Twitter software engineer Andrew Hayward revealed the company doesn’t have a team dedicated to accessibility, instead they rely on employees who volunteer their time above and beyond their usual duties. A separate spokesperson for the platform, in a statement to The Verge reiterated that the concerns are heard and that Twitter is committed to building out its advocacy resources across all products including a more stringent accessibility review and establishing a more “more dedicated group” to focus on the problem.

“We missed around voice Tweets, and we are committed to doing better — making this feature more accessible and also all features in the future. We’re constantly reviewing both the functionality of our products and the internal processes that inform them; we’ll share progress in this area.” the company shared. With the influx of audio content online driven by podcasting, this won’t be the last time accessibility comes to the forefront of decisions and it’s critical that they listen to their audiences with empathy so they can ensure an equitable and meaningful experience for all.

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