Talk of the town: Filipinos going to audio drop-in apps  

Published June 5, 2021, 12:21 AM

by Tonyo Cruz


Tonyo Cruz
Tonyo Cruz

Filipinos love to talk. In the past months, more Filipinos seem to be gravitating towards audio drop-in chat apps which allow users to talk with one or more other users all at the same time, and about any topic that they’re interested in.

The more familiar of the two most popular audio drop-in apps is TwitterSpaces, which capitalizes on the millions of current users of Twitter. It is available to Twitter users with at least 600 followers. A TwitterSpace appears ahead of all Fleets on the top portion of the Twitter app, with no external label except for the name of the host.

Only when one clicks on a TwitterSpace would a user find out the topic,, and see a preview of the other users who have joined the conversation, including those the user follows. One has to follow the host or any participating user to be able to see a TwitterSpace. Alternatively, Twitter users may discover a TwitterSpace through their timelines or through direct messages inviting them to join.

The host of a TwitterSpace manages it alone, as it is tied to his/her Twitter account.  There can only be one host. He/she could invite up to 10 speakers at any one time, or could either mute or remove them all. Removing a speaker would give others a chance to speak. One may ask to be a speaker by making a request, and it is up to the host to approve it.

There are three things that I like in TwitterSpaces.

One, the big user base of Twitter. thought-leaders including wannabe ones could immediately launch a TwitterSpace. That TwitterSpace is already built-in on Twitter makes the mass adoption of audio drop-in quite easy.

Two, the marquee function allows a TwitterSpace to share graphic or text content direct from a space. There are also emoji reactions (100, raised fist, peace sign, waving hand, and the face with tears of joy) available to all TwitterSpaces speakers, listeners and the host.

Three, TwitterSpaces’ full integration with Twitter means a TwitterSpace user could tweet or DM at the same time that they are engaged in a conversation.

Clubhouse is a totally new and separate app which first rolled out in 2020.

Initially exclusive to iOS users, Clubhouse allows any user to start or join a room on whatever topic. One can just choose any room from the app’s hallway, which is curated depending on one’s choice of interests during the sign-up process.

There are listening rooms, with just one moderator or speaker onstage playing music. There are also seminar-type rooms where a pre-set number of speakers take turns speaking on a topic, while listeners just listen. Then, there are also townhall-type rooms where listeners are allowed to raise their hands and join the speakers if they have comments or questions to share. There are rooms where everyone is a speaker, with moderators helping guide the conversation.

Tinkering with one’s list of interests or following a diverse group of people could open a Clubhouse user to seemingly unlimited possibilities of rooms to visit.

Clubhouse allows as many moderators and speakers in any room. Having more moderators means that rooms are better managed, and moderator chores could be shared. Having space for more than 10 speakers in any room makes for a livelier and more vibrant discussion. Moderators can also immediately mute, bring back to audience, kick, or report any user found to be abusing the platform or disrupting the conversation.

One unique thing about Clubhouse is that it has a nomination system which allows users to check on who nominated others. It is a safety valve against abuse.

Clubhouse has clubs that provide users the ability to form or join groups based on their interests. Filipino clubs include Bakla Cinematic Universe, The Filipino Collective, Sinigang Valley, Barangay Jologs, Tara Kwento?, Club Filipino, and Sari Sari (which I co-founded). Americans of Filipino descent and Filipinos working in the United States have their Tambay Lang and Bahay Kubo, among others. These clubs actively engage in community-building and invite more users to the platform.

Next week, we will discuss more about these two new audio drop-in apps, directly comparing the two plus another one called Calamansi, our experiences with them, how they have been used so far by users, and potential uses in the future, especially as we prepare to engage in the national conversation that is the 2022 elections. ###