Twitter expands voice tweets on iOS, transcription functionality in the works

Twitter’s been conducting a limited test of a voice-tweeting feature since June, and now it’s announced an expansion to more beta testers on iOS, a sign that voice-tweeting is nearing its public launch. In addition, it’s acknowledged that a new transcription feature is in development.

“We’re rolling out voice tweets to more of you on iOS so we can keep learning about how people use audio,” the company announced this morning. And in order to make voice tweets more accessible to users with hearing and listening problems, the company has confirmed that it’s working to make tweet transcriptions available as soon as possible. “We’re already working to add automated captions to audio and video by early 2021,” as per Twitter’s blog post.

The voice-tweeting feature will permit you to quickly compose a tweet with just your voice.

The company argued a few months ago that sending voice-based messages instead of text is “not too different” than sending a regular tweet with text. People disagreed. Tweeting with one’s voice became instantly controversial because the feature originally failed to factor in accessibility. User backlash prompted Twitter’s design chief Dantley Davis to acknowledge that the company indeed “shipped something that shouldn’t have been shipped”.

If you’re in this Twitter test, you can send a voice tweet by touching the compose option in the mobile app, then hit a new wavelengths icon and hit a record button on the next screen to start recording your voice. Each voice tweet captures up to 140 seconds of audio. You can record a longer voice tweet than 140 seconds, but it’ll be split into multiple 140-second voice tweets.

According to Twitter:

People will see your voice tweet appear on their timeline alongside other tweets. To listen, tap the image. On iOS only, playback will start in a new window docked at the bottom of your timeline and you can listen as you scroll. You can also keep listening while doing other things on your phone or on the go.

The company is also testing another feature that would let a customer record a private audio message and send it to another Twitter user through the app’s Direct Messages feature. Yet another feature in testing: automatic tweet translation.