The founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, speaks during the 56th Munich Security Conference on February 15, 2020 in Munich, southern Germany.
Christof Stache | AFP | Getty Images
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Monday that the company is developing audio capabilities that allow users to have real-time conversations with others, similar to the Clubhouse app that made a big splash in Silicon Valley circles earlier this year.
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook plans to invest heavily in audio functions and expand them in the coming years.
“We believe that audio will of course also be a first-class medium, and there are all these different products that have to be developed for the entire spectrum,” Zuckerberg told Casey Newton on Monday on the Sidechannel Discord server.
The new feature is called Live Audio Rooms and the company expects it will be available to all users of the Facebook app and Messenger this summer, the company said in a blog post.
The company will begin testing live audio rooms in groups on Facebook.
“They already have these communities that are organized by interests and allow people to come together and have spaces to talk in. I think this is going to be a very useful thing,” he said.
Facebook plans to give users the ability to bill others for access to their live audio spaces through a single purchase or subscription so developers can monetize the new feature.
The feature is hardly surprising. Facebook is known to copy products from social media competitors like Snap, and the New York Times reported in February that the company was working on a product to compete with Clubhouse, a fast-growing San Francisco startup that is real-time – Popularized audio spaces.
Zuckerberg also announced an upcoming product called Soundbites, which are short-form audio clips like jokes that users can listen to in a feed. Facebook uses an algorithm to determine which audio clips to play for each user. The company will develop sound editing tools that can be used to generate audio for Soundbites.
“Basically, it’s about creating this dynamic, algorithmic feed based on your interests in terms of various types of audio that you can consume in the background, but that snack-able thing is,” he said.
Facebook plans to set up an Audio Creator Fund to pay users to create content for SoundBites. The company will begin testing Soundbites in the next few months.
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook is working on podcast features that will allow users to discover, share, and listen to podcasts in the app.
Finally, integration with Spotify could allow musicians to more easily share their music on the social network and allow users to easily play music within the social network, Zuckerberg said. The integration is known within Facebook as Project Boombox.