Twitter's next experiment dives into audio chat groups with Spaces

Twitter is on a roll lately, but what is the company trying to become?

What you need to know

  • Twitter is rolling out a new experiment called Spaces.
  • Spaces allows users to create groups for audio chats.
  • The feature is currently in a limited public test right now.

Twitter is no stranger to experiments. Lately, it's been trying out all sorts of things, some of which are catching on, like its divisive Snapchat-inspired Fleets. Some experiments, on the other hand, were a little questionable, such as the decision to replace retweets with quote tweets, only to bring retweets back again. Then there are some moves that Twitter makes that are headscratchers, like the recent decision to purchase Squad only to shut both it and Periscope down. As for this latest experiment, it's unclear what category to throw this in, but it's interesting.

The company announced via tweet that its latest experiment, Spaces, is now being publicly tested. Spaces is a, well, space for users to create audio chatrooms "focused on the intimacy of the human voice." The idea is to have Spaces "feel like a well-hosted dinner party." It sounds like this might be Twitter's answer to some of the best messaging apps, but it's anyone's guess as to what Twitter is actually trying to become.

Based on screenshots from Jane Manchun Wong, Spaces looks fairly minimal and seems to function as a meeting. Thumbnails representing the users in a given space will be labeled depending on what's happening. For instance, if someone is speaking, there will be a waveform visual beneath their thumbnail and they will be labeled as "Speaker" unless they are the host of the Space, in which case they will be labeled as such. An icon at the bottom allows members of the group to request to speak, and their label will presumably be changed from "Listener" to "Speaker", assuming the host gives them permission.

According to later tweets from Wong, audio is not the most reliable at the moment, so when it cuts out, there's a live transcript option that apparently works pretty well. Members can also share tweets, react with emojis, block, and report.

Currently, there are two ways to create a space; either through Fleets by swiping right or by pressing and holding the compose button. Anyone who currently has access can invite others by sending a link or DM. Right now, the feature is limited to a small number of people, and it's currently unclear if the feature will gain a wider rollout.

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