It may have lost some of its buzz, and it may seem like Twitter’s Spaces has now superseded its offering in many ways. But Clubhouse is still rising, not as fast as it had been back in January, but it is moving forward nonetheless.
And this could help it maintain that momentum. Today, as part its weekly community update, Clubhouse announced that it’s now rolling out spatial audio, adding a new level of depth to your Clubhouse chats.
Hear ye, hear ye ???? spAAaAaAatial audio on Clubhouse!
It’s like surround sound, but w/ your own headphones. A more vibrant, human experience! Plus makes it much easier to tell who’s talking.
— Clubhouse (@Clubhouse) August 29, 2021
As you can hear in this example clip (better in headphones), spatial audio makes it sound more like a real world chat, with each different speaker in a seemingly different position around the virtual room.
As explained by Clubhouse:
“Spatial audio replicates how we hear and process voices in the same physical room, spacing individual speakers in the listener’s wired, or Bluetooth headphones (including Airpods) or car stereo system.”
That can make it a more engaging experience, replicating IRL discussion, while also better enabling differentiation between each voice, as you’ll know, for example, that ‘John’s voice will be coming from your left, while ‘Jane’s will come from your right during the chat.
To simulate audio spacing, Clubhouse’s software will now assign a specific position to each speaker in a room “taking care to evenly distribute speakers for maximum intelligibility”. Clubhouse also notes that music and stereo sources will also be positioned, and will maintain their assigned stereo separation in the artificial space.
The only catch is that the speakers themselves won’t get the same experience – spatial audio will only be active for members of the audience. That could present some challenges in management, but it could also help those on stage to better follow along with the conversation, without having to be concerned about potential shifts in audio levels for each co-speaker.
And for the audience, it could present all new creative opportunities:
“Imagine a ghost story where you can hear the evil spirit move around the haunted house or even whisper in your ear. Or a musical performance or comedy show where you can hear applause or laughter coming from every corner of a sold out virtual club.”
It’s a good update, which should help Clubhouse maintain audience interest – which, as noted, is still seemingly rising as the app continues to push on in the face of increasing competition.
Indeed, Clubhouse says that it’s now hosting some 700,000 rooms in the app every day, an increase of 130% on its volumes just three months ago.
Of course, more ‘Rooms’ doesn’t necessarily reflect more active app users overall, and Clubhouse hasn’t provided an update on its total user figures of late (the app reported 10m weekly users back in May). But even so, its download rates, while far lower than its peak, have leveled somewhat since June, with both iOS and Android users still looking to tap into its various Clubs and discussions.
The app’s Android app launch back in May has further propelled its overall numbers, with Clubhouse seeing particularly significant growth in India, where Android is clearly the dominant OS, and where users have welcomed the open opportunity of live discussion, partnered with the more data-friendly audio-only approach.
The region has become a much bigger focus for the app of late, and it’ll be hoping that the addition of spatial audio will help to reignite interest in all markets, and maintain its position as the best audio social app.
Still, innovation is key, and spatial audio could be a big, bold step in this respect.
New Screenshots Highlight How Snapchat’s Coming ‘Family Center’ Will Work
Snapchat’s parental control options look close to launch, with new screenshots based on back-end code showing how Snap’s coming ‘Family Center’ will look in the app.
As you can see in these images, shared by app intelligence company Watchful (via TechCrunch), the Family Center will enable parents to see who their child is engaging with in the app, along with who they’ve added, who they’re following, etc.
That could provide a new level of assurance for parents – though it could also be problematic for Snap, which has become a key resource for more private, intimate connection, with its anti-public posting ethos, and disappearing messages, helping to cement its place as an alternative to other social apps.
That’s really how Snap has embedded its niche. While other apps are about broadcasting your life to the wider world, Snap is about connecting with a small group of friends, where you can share your more private, secret thoughts, without concern of them living on forever, and coming back to bite you at a later stage.
That also, of course, means that more questionable, dangerous communications are happening in the app. Various reports have investigated how Snap is used for sending lewd messages, and arranging hook-ups, while drug dealers reportedly now use Snap to organize meet-ups and sales.
Which, of course, is why parents will be keen to get more insight into such, but I can’t imagine Snap users will be so welcoming of an intrusive tool in this respect.
But if parents know that it exists, they may have to, and that could be problematic for Snap. Teen users will need to accept their parents’ invitation to enable Family Center monitoring, but you can see how this could become an issue for many younger users in the app.
Still, the protective benefits may well be worth it, with random hook-ups and other engagements posing significant risks. And with kids as young as 13 able to create a Snapchat account, there are many vulnerable youngsters engaging in the app.
But it could reduce Snap’s appeal, as more parents become aware of the tool.
Snapchat hasn’t provided any further insight into the new Family Center, or when it will be released, but it looks close to launch based on these images.
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